Every year, our family is grateful to have a turkey at our Thanksgiving dinner. Not only because we’re blessed for all that we have – but because we all remember The Year Bonnie Attacked the Turkey.
When I was a young mom trying to juggle teaching and my two little kids, I couldn’t handle it all. My 78-year-old Aunt Bee saved me, moving in with seven suitcases and a Pekinese named Buddy. After a few years, Buddy passed on to Doggie Heaven – or wherever tough little scrappers like Buddy go.
Like pretty much everyone else in our family, Aunt Bee was a dog person – and when she met Bonnie, it was love at first sight. Bonnie was a sweet little cocker spaniel who needed a home. The kids loved her, and they put her through endless hours of wearing baby clothes, superhero capes and other indignities.
Bonnie the Cocker Spaniel was a saint – or so we thought, until Thanksgiving came around.
One Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I was doing the usual baking, setting the table, and getting ready for the big crowd that was about to descend on us. The turkey was huge, and the fridge was packed full, so I’d cleverly decided to defrost the bird by putting it out on an enclosed porch – a space that was colder than the house, but warmer than freezer. I set the bird, wrapping and all, in a pan on the floor, and every few hours I’d go poke at the thing to make sure it was softening up. Late Wednesday afternoon, I’d checked, and all was on schedule.
But when I left the porch, I didn’t quite latch the door.
About half an hour later, I heard Aunt Bee scream. I came flying in to see sweet little Bonnie in full-on attack mode, tearing the cold-but-not-frozen bird to pieces. My first concern was Bonnie, who was snarling like a crazed werewolf. My second concern was the turkey, which was now unrecognizable.
While Aunt Bee held Bonnie, I tossed out the turkey pieces, grabbed the car keys and raced to the grocery store.
Maybe some years in some stores there are regular-sized turkeys available at 5:30 on Thanksgiving eve, but not this year. I ended up with three very small turkeys (or three medium-sized chickens, depending on your point of view), which I baked in rotation.
On Thanksgiving, we laid out the full spread – only the centerpiece looked a little like I’d made a quick stop at Colonel Sanders.
Our son Alex just kept asking, “Where’s the TURKEY?” He refused to believe that a trio of mini-turkeys was the same thing. (What can I say, he gets his tough line of questioning from me.)
All day, Bonnie just smiled like she’d won the National Dog Show – and the kids looked at that sweet little dog with a newfound respect (and possibly fear).
Thanksgiving is a time to remember, to laugh, and to be grateful – and I know that’s not easy for a lot of people this year. Many people are worried about what the future may bring, and they are right to be worried.
But as I look around this morning at my kids and grandkids, with a turkey almost in the oven (God willing) and Aunt Bee’s green Jello-O salad ready to go, I’m hopeful this Thanksgiving. The courage and commitment of people all across this country – to resist and persist and take on each other’s fights as our own – is stronger than anything I’ve ever seen before. Stronger, even, than little Bonnie’s bite on that turkey so many years ago.
I’m deeply thankful to have the opportunity to fight for families in Massachusetts and all across the country – and I’m thankful to have you with me for those fights.