The Pilgrims probably did not eat turkey at that famous meal we talk about for Thanksgiving. And contrary to popular opinion, Benjamin Franklin did not want the turkey to be the national bird. He wrote a letter to his daughter saying the eagle on the national stamp looked like a turkey. I was surprised to learn both these facts. Not only was Thanksgiving not originally a prayer day but turkey probably was not eaten.
When I checked out slang like the comment thrown out, “What a turkey!” I discovered that a turkey is a person often considered a bit dull but then surprises you by coming up with a silly step in a dance entertaining everyone or gobble, gobbling out a response to surprise the listener. In bowling, three strikes in a row is called “a turkey.” Here’s the internet definition, “a person or thing of little appeal; dud; loser. a naive, stupid, or inept person. a poor and unsuccessful theatrical production; flop.”
Pardoning a turkey at Thanksgiving by the President of the United States is a tradition that started with Abraham Lincoln when a turkey was sent to the White House. Fun.
So how does this tie in with our reflections today. I suspect many of us have felt like a “turkey,” a person of little appeal, dull, perhaps misunderstood. Few of us get three strikes in a row bowling. But the idea of being pardoned from death inspires me. In Mark 5 there is a story of a synagogue leader who comes to Jesus to plead for the life of his daughter who is on the edge of death. We do not know her name. She might be “every person facing death.” In route to the house another nameless woman who has suffered from bleeding for 12 years sneaks up and touches Jesus’ hem and is healed. Jesus calls her into voice and in that delay the news comes that the little girl has died. Jesus goes forward anyway and raises the little girl. “41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). (Mark 5:41)” The girl is pardoned from death just like the turkey of Thanksgiving. Both the girl and the woman are no longer dull, uninteresting, invisible people. They are pardoned from their plight and have a story to tell. I’m guessing they were super thankful!
As we pause at Thanksgiving and think over this last year, may we remember the times when we felt like a dull “turkey”, condemned for being who we are. But perhaps we can identify the hand of God reaching into our lives and giving us a new lease on life. I know many are sad because Covid claimed the lives of loved ones, because of economic and educational challenges with children but let us ask God to open our eyes to see and remember when we touched his hem or when he touched us and life flowed back. Suddenly our day became a “three strikes in a row” day. We can say Thank You Lord!! Blessings.