11.23.2005

Happy Thanksgiving 2005

It's an early post for the Turkey Day Holiday so we can all get off the computer and spend some time with other humans.

For your holiday cheer, I want to share a Thanksgiving story that happened last week. A local ministry group was hosting a Thanksgiving meal for the International students at the University. This was going to be a great time to meet and welcome the students; a time to teach them about American Thanksgiving and learn about their culture to see if there was anything similar. (Who knows? You know? Because I can tell you I don't - at least not right now) Well anyway, that’s what was supposed to happen, but my experience turned out differently.

Once we got there, we saw a wonderful setup and there was food everywhere. This was going to be fun and yummy - no doubt. Upon the start someone grabbed my arm and said “we need help carving turkeys.” No problem. I enjoy helping out and look forward to doing it when I can. Leaving my wife at a table of Ukranian friends, I approach the scene and quickly assess the situation. The eating of turkey was about to commence and we had 12 turkeys, 6 people, and 4 knives already starting their surgery. I attempted to do some math in the sense of an equation.

If you have 200 people who each will eat 4 ounces of meat and you have 6 people carving at roughly 1 ounce every 3 minutes, and the average consumption rate at the buffet line is .25 ounces a minute, how long do you have before people start complaining?

Unfortunately, if I was going to sit down with pen and paper at this moment, the other volunteers would stare at me in disbelief not knowing that my calculations would be a boon to their task, but since I’m bad at math I dived into the turkeys.

Ah, the knife problem - or I should say, "problem of knife lackage." Yes. Upon inspection of the utensils available, we saw that carving knives were indeed lacking. There were plenty of serving spoons that could have been sharpened, but the lack of a stone grinder prohibited this line of thinking. I had been watching a lot of MacGyver lately and the brief thought of rigging a box fan to a screen door to produce a turkey-o-matic processor did pop into mind, but I chose a more rational line of thinking considering our impressionable guests. A journey to the buffet line produced two things: a sense of awe at the amount and variety of food and treats and a group of plastic forks and knives. Equipping myself with plenty of supplies for myself and my fellow knifeless carvers, I journey back and plunge with new resolve and hope into my first turkey. If my plasticware could talk, they probably would have said “Dude, what are you doing? Are you high? We’re plastic!” To which I would have said “I know boys, but these people depend on us, I’m with you in this to the end.” To which they would have said "You are high! You're talking to plasticware." And then I would deny it repeatedly and the organizer would then ask me to sit down at a table away from everyone. But the knife and fork didn't say a word - which is probably for the best for all three of us.

The interesting thing about turkey is that within a short period of a few minutes, you can go from craving it with mouth a-waterin’ and then be entirely repulsed by it as if it were camel spit in a matter of minutes. Luckily, my inability to eat the turkey due to duty staved off this effect. My new friends volunteering were an inexperienced lot and I wasn’t much better, but speed was essential and “careful cuts along the grain” was long abandoned to “meat-off-bone-now!” We all came to the realization that turkeys are made out of a lot of turkey. Just when you think you carved enough out of it, there was a whole section untouched, mocking you. We were convinced we were carving demon turkeys that were respawning in their own juices, rebuilding their tasty morsels to ungodly strengths to eventually take control of us all. Either that or we were just not as diligent as we thought we were. It was around my second turkey that my equation from before broke down since I did not consider the “dark meat” factor. People started coming to our carving table for fresh warm dark meat. This was fine, because they were going to get turkey anyway sooner or later – why not here? It was learned quite quickly that turkey was being consumed at a much larger rate that previously estimated. My equation, if applied, would have generated a turkey deficit that future generations would still be paying off, not to mention a “dark meat” quotient that would send energy prices soaring.

Sorry grandkids, Papa only had a plastic knife.

But at the end of all things, we had (when combined) 3 turkeys left over and nothing else. I retreated with some dark meat that was no longer appealing (through no fault of its own) and bits of corn left from the demolished buffet line and partook in some great fun with our Ukrainian friends. Even though the festivities were almost over I was able to reflect on what I was thankful for. I was thankful to help and thankful to be around some great people. Most of all, I was thankful for the existence of ham.

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