Friday, November 28, 2014

RIP Edwina

Thanksgiving is a massive affair for my family. Last year, the count was 55 people and 36 pies, and that wasn’t even everyone.
It’s always been a time of pie and family -- a sort of reunion for the Webb sisters, my grandma and my great-aunt. They reunite with as many of their children and grandchildren that can make it, and we eat and talk and talk and eat. After pie, we sing Christmas songs in SATB parts as my grandma plays the piano.
Every Thanksgiving is lovely, but some are more memorable than others, like the year Sunny the Alston’s dog ate all of the pies they were bringing. But some years get passed down as legends; none more so than the year of Edwina.
Not Edwina. Or the national bird of the U.S.A.
First, it must be said, don’t ever name something you plan on eating. When you name an animal, it turns that livestock into a pet.
My family learned this the hard way when, one Thanksgiving, they were gifted a turkey and my oldest uncle christened it “Edwina.”
Edwina lived in our backyard and, according to my grandma, “had the prettiest little gobble.”
The morning came, the Arizona sun shining on Edwina, who glimpsed Teapot Mountain from our backyard for the last time.
My strongest uncle went to her side, machete in hand and began hacking. And hacking and hacking and hacking.
We blame the dull machete. But next time you read Alma 17, keep in mind how remarkable it is that Ammon is able to cut off as many arms as he does. Because if it’s hard to chop off the head of a turkey, I can’t imagine how hard it is to get through an entire human arm.
I think it’s safe to say the whole family was a little traumatized, but my pragmatic grandma pressed on, roasting her for the feast as was intended.
There she was, laid out on the faded turkey-print platter that had seen many a Thanksgiving, her plump flesh golden brown and (presumably) delicious.
My aunts and uncles and their cousins stared at Edwina, some of the eyes suspiciously shiny. They stared at the gravy my grandma had made from the drippings.
“I can’t eat it!” One of the Alston cousins proclaimed. “It’s Edwina juice!”
“Are you going to let her life be in vain?” My uncle said. “Edwina gave her life to us and we need to be thankful.”
With that, some of the family dug in, but others abstained. They had, after all, loved the little turkey with a pretty gobble.
We haven’t raised a family turkey since, but, as I ladle gravy over my potatoes each year, I can’t help but think of it as “Edwina juice.”


  1. One time my cousin showed us her pet piggy Pebbles. The next day we had ham for breakfast ... and no Pebbles in the backyard. We couldn't eat pebbles. :( Poor Edwina!

  2. >Sniff.< Let's go back to the part about the pies.