"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
January 12, 2015
The Turkey that Would Not be Eaten
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Way back in prehistoric times, perhaps as early as October of last year, our home teachers invited us to a big, communal Thanksgiving feast at one of their homes. This was not going to be an easy feat for me, because I do not get into other people’s homes willy-nilly, but I was eventually able to navigate the stairs through the garage and make it into the house.

I felt so brave, which shows you how pathetic it is to be an old person. We think it’s a major accomplishment when we manage to brush our teeth or get our shoes on the correct feet.

The Thanksgiving celebration was such a rousing success that when we learned that everyone was going to be in town for Christmas, Fluffy and I volunteered to have a similar dinner at our house on Christmas day. This was no small matter. One home teaching family had three members; the other home teaching family had four members, plus perhaps the lady who lived in the basement, and then there were Fluffy and me.

I’m not big on math, but that was more people than Fluffy and I are usually feeding. We usually don’t host anybody, other than ourselves and Alex Trebek. Mr. Trebek keeps us awake during dinner so that we don’t fall face first into the soup.

We had already decided to order a ham from Famous Dave’s — not because we needed a ham but because their hams are so good we were looking for any excuse. But once we knew we were feeding an army, we also ordered a smoked turkey. Then we invited a friend from the temple and her mother. Why not? When you’re feeding an army, what’s two more?

As Christmas approached, things started to fall apart. Home teacher John’s parents announced they were coming sometime that evening. We bravely said that they could come for dinner too, bringing the tally to a lucky 13 if they decided to accept and if the agoraphobic lady from the basement didn’t join the party.

Then John learned that his sister-in-law and her family were planning on arriving for a visit sometime that day as well, and at that point it became apparent that not everybody had been communicating with everybody else. Some people had accepted our invitation without getting prior spousal approval, which is never a good thing.

John and wife Michelle decided to bow out of the Christmas Day dinner, replacing it with a dinner at the Cracker Barrel on another day — their treat. Then Michael and Melanie came too, but was that in addition to or instead of the Christmas Day dinner? Nobody actually let us know.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve. We knew were down to no more than seven people for dinner — Fluffy and me, the temple friend and her mother, and the Michael’s family. But Michael’s family told us they were going to a movie on Christmas Day. Was that before dinner at our house, after dinner at our house, or instead of dinner at our house? We never were completely sure.

Also, our friend from the temple had not called to see what time we were eating. My guess was that they were eating elsewhere and that we were eating alone, but we couldn’t be sure.

At the last minute, we made menu adjustments. We decided to make cranberry fluff salad, cook the ham, bake the pie, share a sweet potato, and call it good. If someone called to ask what time we were eating, we could always make mashed potatoes and gravy. The turkey was spared for another day.

As it turned out, we ate Christmas dinner wearing our pajamas and Santa hats and watching Alex Trebek. After eating, we took a short nap on the couch. Despite the change in plans, it was a quiet Christmas and all was well. The turkey napped in the refrigerator, cold and happy. It dodged a bullet.

A few days after Christmas, we heard from a friend who suggested we revive an old tradition of having Easter and Christmas dinners together. We said we could do it retroactively, but our Christmas dinner would be on New Year’s Day. We already had the food.

So on New Year’s Day, which is a much nicer day to cook than Christmas, Fluffy and I did all the cooking that we’d planned to do the week before. We made dressing for the turkey. We made gravy for the turkey. We made mashed potatoes. Fluffy made another batch of cranberry fluff salad, the batch he had made the week before being long gone because it is so fine.

And of course, we finally heated that smoked turkey. It was a glorious bird. I couldn’t wait to eat it. It was the star of the meal. In fact, we had to postpone the meal until the internal temperature of the turkey reached 165 degrees, something I did not understand because the turkey was already fully cooked when we got it from Famous Dave’s. But we were obedient, so we waited.

Fluffy, being the family member with operating feet, was a whirling dervish of activity. He asked Dale if he would carve the turkey, but Dale declined, citing a lack of carving experience.

I would have been glad to carve the turkey, but I was making gravy and then I started telling Dale the story of the Halifax explosion. There was an ulterior motive here. I wanted him to travel there at his own expense, interview a lot of people, and give Fluffy and me the research so we could write a book about it for an American audience. Then we would split the royalties three ways.

I could have carved the turkey as I was talking, and I would have been glad to do so if someone had brought me the turkey. It is just as well nobody did, because I was gesturing wildly with my hands as I was talking, and I’m sure everyone at the table was glad I did not have a knife in my hands at the time.

The only other potential turkey carver at the table, Lynne, is so polite that she would not have touched the turkey without written permission from the turkey in question, and the turkey was not in a position to write.

So all the food made its way to the table except for the star of the meal — the turkey itself. The very centerpiece of my Norman Rockwell feast sat on a counter across the room while everyone dug into the ham and the mashed potatoes and dressing and gravy and cranberry fluff salad.

Halfway through the meal, Dale said, “I think I’m going to get me a turkey leg.” He went over to the turkey, ripped off a leg with his bare hands, and back he came.

I thought to myself, I’d like a piece of turkey. But do you think it occurred to old Coma Brain that it might be a good time to carve the turkey so we could actually eat it? No, it never did. I don’t mind carving a turkey. I’m not good at it, but I would have been glad to do it. We could have had turkey and dressing and gravy too, just the way I’d planned from the beginning. But the idea never even crossed my mind.

We sat there visiting and watching Dale pick apart his turkey leg. He commented on the sinews and the skin, but he never told us how good it was or wasn’t. I still have no idea whether that bird was a good investment.

We have baguettes and avocados and cranberry-orange relish, all ready to make turkey and avocado sandwiches at our next meal. But I fully expect that before we get around it, we are going to see a one-legged turkey use his crutches to push open the refrigerator door. He will hop out of the refrigerator and hobble to the side of the road, where he will stand on his remaining leg and hold up a little sign saying, “Curse you, Mister Dale.”

Most of us plan our lives in neat little outlines. In the innocence of youth, we may expect that our lives will line up like this:


It's only when we get to the end of our lives that we see the path our lives have really taken is more likely to resemble this:

“The Hallelujah Chorus”

It's how we deal with the curve balls of life that defines who we are as people.  In fact, it's a good part of why we are here.  We need to adapt to things we don't expect — the spectacularly good, and the terribly bad, usually without any time to think about them and take them in.  Not only do we need to adapt to them, but we also need to accept these things with grace. 

We all know people who hit a bump in the road and just stop. It may be the death of a loved one, or the inability to have children. It may be a severe illness. It may be going through life as a single person. It may be something as seemingly trivial as the death of a pet. It may be any of the times when life diverts us from our established plan.

All of those things are big bumps in the road, but they are part and parcel of life. They are not things that are designed to stop us in our tracks. Nevertheless, if we look around us we can see many people sitting in front of their own personal boulders, steadfastly refusing to get up and climb over them, or walk around them, or plow right through them as though they are not even there.

There were a dozen little things that could have ruined our Christmas this year, but we ended up laughing them off and having a delightful day. It is my hope for the New Year that we can all take that attitude with the little and big obstacles that will inevitably block our path as we head down the highway of life.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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