Chosen Isn’t So Special if You Are a Turkey

My kids used to say I should write a how-to-hide-the-turkey-recipe book. We ate a lot of turkey when we lived in Italy. Affordable and easily available, I disguised wings, thighs and breast, every possible way. But turkey, as often as it showed up at our house, didn’t come whole.  

My butcher lady got used to me and our American Thanksgiving tradition. I’d begin my Thanksgiving stress by telling her I’d need a whole one about a month before Thanksgiving. Since whole turkey didn’t show up in the grocery store, she had to order a chosen one special.  

It’s special to be chosen, just not if you are a turkey. 

My butcher informed some turkey grower somewhere, so he could set it apart before it got chopped into a million sections. The chosen bird continued to feast while his friends disappeared. He fattened like Hansel and Gretel for the kill, no doubt lifting a turkey’s toe now and then to gage thickness. 

About a week before Thanksgiving my butcher Rosy called me to say, “the turkey is ready.” Ready is relative. 

Every year I did my best to quell a bit of her enthusiasm because the completely organic treatment of the bird always produced sweat beads to form on my brow. 

The turkey without fail was bigger than my oven. 

My house was feet from the butcher shop and I always walked there, but for the turkey, we needed an all out family endeavor. We carried the headless but feathered beast to the trunk, and turkey-trotted Tom into the house. We plucked him, viscerated and cleaned him. Then we trial-ran him to see if we could shove him into the oven and close the door. 

To make it fit into the oven, legs, wings, thighs, became dispensable. If it still didn’t fit, a bit came off the front and back end.

More than once on Thanksgiving Day we brought a shorn facsimile of the perfect bird to the table.  And when we brought what was left of him out and put it on the table, it always left an impressional center piece. All eyes on the remaining turkey, albeit a bit somberly, we recited things to be grateful for.  

Sometimes we look back over the past year and find our lives look a bit misshapen, distorted or disheveled. This year you may sit at a table with gaps immeasurable. 

Canned gratitudes, albeit worthy, valid, and true become our thanksgiving safety net. “Family, food, home, health and Jesus,” who can argue with that?

 This year, I challenge you to dig a bit deeper. Find God’s blessings in some of those loped off pieces, the painful carvings of God, and discover within them some of the unlikely treasures of thanksgiving. These shared riches bring an intimacy of gratitude, relationship, and true praise. And above all, may we center on the Giver above every gift. 

From our house to yours, Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me…” Psalm 50:23 ESV


You might also be interested in my article on

“What Is the Omnipotence of God?”


Another in

“Let this cup pass from Me.”


11 Replies

  1. Linda Kline Reply

    Thank you, Sylvia for that bit of humor and wisdom. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Gods blessings on all.😊❤️👵🏻

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Linda! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving as well. Miss you!

  2. Barbara Latta Reply

    Sylvia, I feel your pain in shoving an over-sized turkey into an under-sized oven. When we were first married, my husband bought a 20 pound turkey for me to cook (the first one ever for me) and invited his family over to eat with us. I was mortified when the carving began and slices of plastic came off with the meat. The giblet package was still inside. Your insights are profound and give us food for thought to use the pieces of life in a wise way. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Barbara, you are not alone in the giblets story!! I’m pretty sure there are a lot of stories out there of thanksgiving turkeys which would make us all feel good! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Jeannie Waters Reply

    I love your humor, Sylvia. Great reminders about gratitude.

  4. Katherine Pasour Reply

    I always love to hear your stories of your time in the mission field. This one is great! As a farm girl, the memory of plucking a beheaded chicken comes to mind. It’s not a task I want to repeat, but I couldn’t help smiling at your description. But you kept the family tradition intact and I know those are very special memories for your family. Your challenge is what I need–and I hope I can find something to use to God’s glory in the lopped off pieces of my life.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Katherine! I hope your Thanksgiving Day was one filled with blessings.

  5. Nancy E. Head Reply

    I’m a bit late for my Thanksgiving replies, but this one was worth the wait. God bless, Sylvia!