Beware the Turkey…

Never take your child out to see real live turkeys BEFORE Thanksgiving.

I could probably end this column right here, because you can imagine the rest, right?

The big turkey platter is brought to the beautifully set table.

The crowd ooohs and ahhhs. The head of the family prepares to slice into the tender breast with the biggest knife in the house.

Then a look comes across your child's face. A sudden awareness of what TURKEY means.

Suddenly the dinner on the table has a whole different dimension. A "hey, I knew this guy!" dimension that is not easy to deal with between the stuffing and mashed potatoes.

Before I continue, I'd like to state for the record, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a vegetarian. I've had bouts of vegetarianism in my life, although, I confess, I always end up caving in to my inner carnivore when confronted with a filet mignon at the Grist Mill.

The only real problem I have with the whole vegetarian thing is I have no clue how I'd feed my kids if they decided to never eat meat, especially since that is almost all they eat. And they hate all but two kinds of vegetables. How much can you do with green beans and broccoli?

This all started when we had a turkey-calling contest for an event about seven years ago. Sierra meet two of the biggest, proudest, fluffiest Toms to ever strut a playground. She was only three and these Toms were easily as big as she was.

I had hoped since the meeting took place in early November and she was only three, that we'd make it to Thanksgiving with no real understanding of what a drumstick was all about. But with all the turkey decorations in the room, I didn't stand a chance. I think if anyone had started some good-natured gobbling at the table we might have witnessed a full-fledged vegetarian conversion right there.

I wonder if she had grown up more exposure to farm life than our annual trip to the petting zoo, would it be a little easier to explain the Tom-to-Dinner thing? Do they have a peewee league in 4H where, after a few weeks of caring for a demanding animal, it wouldn't bother a child to then eat it?

Somehow, I imagine that would only make things worse. I can just see my daughters releasing all the hogs from the 4H barn in the dead of the night, creating the first Elementary School Underground Railroad for swine.

In the end, one of the things I was most grateful for that particular Thanksgiving was that hot dogs bear no resemblance to cows. Or pigs. Or whatever was in there.

Hmm. Maybe I should have broken out the broccoli instead.