Turkey Dilemma from The Book

Sarah Age 11

Thanksgiving isn’t really fun

from the turkey’s point of view.

Turkeys hate to be cooked well done

‘cause they have feelings too.

So if you meet a turkey,

Don’t say “That’s the one!”

Instead try beef jerky,

and cook that well done.

Sarah was a compassionate and thoughtful eleven-year-old girl. She had a heart that brimmed with empathy and concern for animals. She couldn’t help but feel upset every Thanksgiving when she saw everyone around her enjoying a feast centered around turkey.

As Thanksgiving approached, Sarah’s sadness grew. She couldn’t fathom the idea of celebrating while turkeys were being harmed. Determined to express her feelings, Sarah decided to write a poem about Thanksgiving dinner from the viewpoint of a turkey, giving a voice to those who couldn’t speak for themselves.

Sarah decided to share her poem with her thoughtful and open-minded teacher, Mrs. Anderson. After class one day, Sarah approached Mrs. Anderson with a sense of anticipation, clutching her poem in her trembling hands.

“Mrs. Anderson, I wrote a poem about Thanksgiving, but from the perspective of a turkey,” Sarah explained, her voice filled with a mix of excitement and apprehension. “I wanted to share it with you and hear your thoughts.”

Mrs. Anderson, known for her logical and compassionate nature, listened attentively as Sarah recited her heartfelt poem. The words flowed from Sarah’s lips, capturing the essence of her empathy and concern for the turkeys on this special day.

After Sarah finished, there was a brief silence as Mrs. Anderson carefully considered her response. She smiled warmly at Sarah, her eyes reflecting kindness and understanding.

“Thank you for sharing your poem, Sarah. It’s clear that you feel deeply about animal welfare and the ethical considerations surrounding Thanksgiving,” Mrs. Anderson began. “Your perspective highlights the importance of empathy and encourages critical thinking.”

Sarah’s eyes widened, eagerly awaiting Mrs. Anderson’s further insight.

“Turkeys, as sentient beings, do not experience emotions in the same way that humans do,” Mrs. Anderson continued. “While it’s true that they are raised for consumption, it’s crucial to approach this topic with factual information.”

Sarah nodded, absorbing her teacher’s words. Though Sarah wanted to understand and agree with her teacher, her emotions couldn’t help but make her feel that her teacher was missing the point.

Mrs. Anderson gently expanded on the topic, “Thanksgiving is indeed a time when many people enjoy a traditional meal that includes turkey. Thanksgiving has different meanings for different people. For many, it’s a time to express gratitude, spend time with loved ones, and enjoy a festive meal together. However, it’s also essential to be mindful of diverse perspectives when it comes to celebrating holidays and respect other people’s cultures and choices.”

“I understand that you are passionate about animal welfare, Sarah, and it’s admirable. You need to explore ways you can educate and inspire others without dismissing their traditions or beliefs.”

Sarah felt a little defeated. She smiled politely and nodded. Thanksgiving was just a week away. Her Mother had been talking about it for a while, and they had gone to three different food pantries to get enough fixings so the friends her parents were going to invite would not think poorly of them.

Thanksgiving was just a week away, and anticipation filled the air in Sarah’s household. Her mother, a resourceful woman, had been preparing for the holiday for weeks. Sarah observed as her mother meticulously planned the recipes, carefully gathering the ingredients needed to create a bountiful feast.

But there was something else Sarah noticed—the extra effort her parents put into making sure they had enough food to share with the friends they planned to invite. Sarah’s parents made multiple trips to various food pantries, ensuring that they had enough fixings to create a Thanksgiving meal that would impress their friends. Sarah had made the mistake of mentioning that it was wrong to lie to the food pantry people and say they lived in an area where they didn’t live, the harsh words and anger she received left her crying herself to sleep. She knew that her parents faced challenges, but she couldn’t understand why so much food was needed for one day when the rest of the time Sarah went hungry.

As Sarah accompanied her parents to the food pantries, she witnessed the strength and resilience of the human spirit. The bustling food banks were filled with dedicated volunteers and grateful recipients, all connected by a shared sense of community. Sarah was moved by the compassion and support she witnessed, as people came together to help one another during a time that symbolized gratitude and togetherness. Sarah couldn’t help but feel guilty that her family may be taking away food from families who might have even less than they did.

As her mother, was busy preparing the two pantry turkeys they had collected and the one ham they got from a third pantry, Sarah could no longer contain her thoughts and emotions. Determined to express herself, she mustered up the courage to share her poem with her mother. Her nerves made her throat tight as she approached her mother, holding the piece of paper tightly in her hands.

“Mom,” Sarah began, her voice quivering slightly, “I wrote a poem about Thanksgiving from the turkey’s perspective. I wanted to share it with you because it means a lot to me.”

Her mother, immersed in her preparations for the festive meal, paused for a moment and turned her attention towards Sarah. She accepted the poem, her face reflecting a mix of curiosity and slight skepticism.

As Sarah’s mother read the heartfelt words, her expression slowly changed. A shadow crossed her face, and her brows furrowed in frustration. The poem had touched a nerve, evoking emotions she hadn’t anticipated.

“Why would you write something like this, Sarah?” her mother snapped, her voice tinged with anger. “Thanksgiving is a time-honored tradition, and turkey is at the center of our meal. I’ve worked so hard to prepare it, and you’re disrespecting that.”

Sarah’s heart sank as she witnessed her mother’s reaction. She hadn’t meant to upset her; she only wanted to share her perspective and make her voice heard. Her mother’s disapproval stung, and tears welled up in her eyes.

With a sudden burst of frustration, Sarah’s mother crumpled the poem in her hands, tossing it into the nearby trash can. “Grow up, Sarah,” she said sternly. “Sometimes we have to accept things the way they are and be grateful for what we have.”

Sarah felt a mix of confusion, hurt, and disappointment. She longed for her mother’s understanding and support. She realized that her attempt to raise awareness had not been received as she had hoped.

“If you don’t want to eat turkey for Thanksgiving,” her mother continued, “then you don’t get to eat any of the meal. You can spend Thanksgiving in your room so you don’t embarrass us!” Her mother yelled. At that moment the first guest arrived.

Sarah retreated to her room, her spirit deflated. She couldn’t fathom giving up on her beliefs, but she also longed for her mother’s acceptance. As she sat in solitude, a glimmer of resilience sparked within her. She quietly snuck out of her room and past the Thanksgiving guests. The table was adorned with dishes prepared by her mother. The aromas wafting from the kitchen were irresistible. Sarah considered apologizing and asking her mother if she could join them, but then she saw her poem in the kitchen trash can. She took her poem out of the trash and put it in her pocket.

By this time it was getting late in the afternoon, Sarah decided to take a walk down the street hoping the cold air would keep her from crying. Sarah spotted her neighbor, Mr. Salie, stocking the little library book box that he had lovingly built outside his house. Sarah knew Mr. Salie was an avid reader and an open-minded individual, so she gathered her courage and approached him with her poem in hand.

“Hi, Mr. Salie,” Sarah greeted him, her voice tinged with a mix of nervousness and determination.

“Hello, Sarah,” Mr. Salie replied kindly. “What brings you here today?”

With a hint of shyness, Sarah offered him her poem. “I wrote this poem about Thanksgiving dinner from the perspective of a turkey. It’s about how they might feel on this day.”

Curiosity sparked in Mr. Salie’s eyes as he took the piece of paper from Sarah’s outstretched hand. He began to read the heartfelt words, and a smile tugged at the corners of his lips. The poem was clever and humorous, showcasing Sarah’s creativity and talent. But as he continued reading, he sensed the pain in Sarah’s eyes, the genuine concern that resonated in her words.

Mr. Salie realized that this was more than just a lighthearted poem. It was a plea for understanding and a desire for change. He folded the poem gently and looked into Sarah’s eyes.

“Sarah, this is truly a remarkable poem. It made me laugh, but it also made me see the depth of your emotions,” Mr. Salie began. “I can tell how much this issue means to you. It’s important to stand up for what you believe in.” Sarah tried to smile but instead, a tear escaped from her eye. It was icy cold as it traveled down her cheek.

“Isn’t your family having Thanksgiving dinner now?” Mr. Salie asked.

“Yes,” Sarah replied, “They’re having turkey.”

“Oh.” Mr. Salie replied. “Well, I don’t eat turkey for Thanksgiving, since I am all alone, but I do have tea and biscuits. Would you like to come inside and warm up with some?”

Sarah nodded, her eyes filled with gratitude. “Yes, please,” She replied.

After a few biscuits and half a cup of tea, Sarah decided she had better head home before she was missed. “Thank you for the tea and biscuits Mr. Salie,” Sarah said with a smile.

“Please call me David,” David said kindly. “Is there anything else I can do for you before you head home?” He asked.

“I just wish things could be different. I wish people would realize the pain turkeys go through.” Sarah replied.

Mr. Salie placed a comforting hand on Sarah’s shoulder. “Change takes time, Sarah, but never underestimate the power of one voice. You’ve taken a step by sharing your poem with me, and it’s a powerful start. Keep expressing yourself, and others will begin to listen. Your passion is contagious.”

Sarah smiled, a glimmer of hope rekindling in her heart. At that moment, she knew that she had found an ally in Mr. Salie, someone who understood and supported her cause. Days turned into weeks, and the strained atmosphere between Sarah and her mother lingered. But Sarah’s determination remained unyielding. She immersed herself in books, seeking knowledge and understanding, and continued to write about the things she felt strongly about. With the support of Mr. Salie and others who empathized with her cause, Sarah’s voice grew stronger, inspiring others to question their own choices.


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