Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Turkey Initiative

For any house, the kitchen on Walters Road was especially large.  The counter and cabinet space expanded for days—pots, pans and food could hide practically anywhere.  Even in the breakfast nook, a small pantry stood to the right of the large radiator offering more potential space for all of the wanted food.
Like many families in the south, we depended on food stamps to fill our bellies.  Food came and went quickly, and as time went on, food seemed to make less and less of an appearance. By the time I was sixteen, I was the only member in my immediate family with a drivers license and a job. I would often come home from work and find something like the refrigerator door open (our dog could open the door),  and/or a brown drawer or cabinet door missing. The brown linoleum floor was almost always covered with layers of dirt and food.  And, if there was food in the kitchen, it was almost always hidden from sight. Climbing on the counters in search for food was a common event amongst my siblings and I.  The ritual repeated itself everyday: climb on counter, open cabinet, search through cabinet, shut cabinet, climb down, climb on counter, open the next cabinet and repeat.  It was always a great day when Little Debbie Snacks found their way into our hands (oatmeal pies were particularly popular among the family). Some days, those snacks were the only things I ate.  I would eat two or three mini pies of sugary goodness (this always seemed to cause more dissatisfaction than benefit).
On one particular occasion, I stood in the kitchen studying the massive pile of dirty dishes. Bits of old food scattering the counter. It was one of those classic moments—you approach a mess from far away, ready with your fingers bared and realized you’ve bit off more than you can chew. Flies swooped and drooped in a timely motion flying through rotten smell as if to celebrate all of their potential, upcoming meals. My bare feet brushed over the brown, flowered linoleum, as I approached the breakfast nook. I can’t exactly remember why I was standing there. Maybe, I was wondering where I could find food, or maybe I was waiting for my Mom or Stepdad to wander home. 
Time passed just as quickly as any other moment, but the next fifteen minutes rapidly slowed to etch its way into my memory. A dark minivan swayed to-and-fro rolling down our driveway upon the uneven gravel. The ground crunched under the solid weight of the tire pressure--only to be silenced when the van settled into its designated spot. A taller woman with short, blonde hair stepped out of the van. I looked closer—I knew her. It was one of the moms from Pikeville's varsity tennis team.  I practiced with her daughter almost every day during the fall season. But, why in the world was she knocking on the door? What could she possibly want?
I met Jessica’s mom at the door. We did the typical “hello, how are you?” conversation, and somehow she nonchalantly slipped in that she was there to deliver Thanksgiving dinner. I was absolutely speechless. Thoughts flooded my consciousness—I’m not sure I even thanked her properly. I'm not even sure how I reacted. How did she find out? Who told her? She retreated down the concrete stairs, and I followed her to the van.  The van door slid open only to reveal a blinding amount of shopping bags.  Our kitchen table was covered with food—food for not only Thanksgiving but for many weeks to come.  Jessica’s mom left me alone in the kitchen shortly following her delivery. I was left to finish the final stage of unpacking our food. Many people helped to contribute to our family that day, and it was there and then that I vowed I would one day do the same for someone else.

Today, with the help of friends and family, I was able to donate 10 turkeys and 20 boxes of stuffing to the California Homemaker’s Association. My relationship with Thanksgiving and my undeniable love for turkey, of course, contributes to my drive for the ultimate Turkey success. My hope is that those turkeys could put a smile on someones face erasing moments of uneasiness and tiredness. This cause will forever be called “The Turkey initiative,” and I hope to see more for many more years to come.  My goal: to pass on the hope that was once given to me through the gift of a Thanksgiving meal.  I will forever call this idea the Turkey Law. So, with each year brings on “The Turkey Initiative” with the ultimate goal of spreading the Turkey law. 

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