Canadian Thanksgiving is in early October, and I really have no delicious memories to share. We came, we saw, we ate, and we left. Meals were always the same; but I might have the odd jellied salad recipe for you. However, what I do want to share is this true story that will live with me throughout all the seasons.
My late father-in-law was raised as a child on a farm in northern Italy. Nono, as we called him, firmly held views that all farm animals were raised strictly for eating purposes. He had absolutely no sentimental value for anything that could be sliced, diced or roasted. Each year for either Thanksgiving or Christmas he raised fresh turkeys. My sons and I had a hard time eating anything that we had given names to, and his tales of animals running away were wearing thin, as we knew what their fates had been.
One day something came into his life that changed all that and her name was Prissy. Prissy was an enormous turkey to say the least and literally frightened anyone that came into the yard. Every month the gas man would come to read the metres beaming his flashlight at her. What he thought he was doing in the daylight with that thing I will never know. All I know was he always left the yard screaming she was going to meet her match on Thanksgiving as she chased him out.
She became a bit of a joke in the neighbourhood and everyone was devastated that she was soon going to become dinner. Thanksgiving came soon enough and Nono herded her into the basement to meet her maker. As she was ready to take her final breath she suddenly looked him straight in the eyes and made a love noise. It was not a small timid cluck but a long loud struck mating call. After those love words escaped her beak she pecked him on the lips. Yes, she kissed him in her own poultry way.
For the first time in Nono’s life he could not complete the task. He could not kill this bird and my mother in law was furious with him. Nono simply got into the car, drove to the grocery store and came home with a huge Butterball turkey. He told her in Italian that she was going to have to cook that frozen turkey or eat bread. Eat bread? That made no sense, but sometimes Italians have an odd sort of communication with all those dialects.
Nono was literally in love with that bird and that was all there was to it. From that day on she followed him every where as she too was absolutely love struck with him. She cooed to him – he cooed to her. All you had to do was look for her and Nono was just around the corner.
One day our dog got too close to Nono and Prissy took him on. Feathers and fowl animal language filled the air but the dog ran off and Prissy went up to Nono slowly. She smiled seductively minus 50 or 60 feathers, as in her small mind she had run the competition off. Nono would always be hers.
Prissy made it through Thanksgiving and then Christmas. As soon as the snow touched the ground Nono built her a large pen in the basement as there was no way that he was going to let her freeze. In January we had a house fire and the whole place was devastated.
The fire had started in the basement and of course Prissy had met her demise. When the fireman asked Nono what was in the basement; he told them his turkey had died. The fireman assumed he was talking about a frozen one in the blackened freezer. Through broken English and tears he told them all about her. Needless to say after I saw their faces I knew that Prissy would always be the tale around Carleton Place that urban folk legends grew out of.
A few years ago Nono passed away and anytime a “turkey holiday” comes around I think of Prissy. There is no doubt in my mind that the both of them are hanging out in that turkey “no kill” zone in the sky.