Some just wanted to go to the closest city and get cheeseburgers and fries. “No WAY,” I say, with angst. “It is Thanksgiving, and we are eating turkey!”
I few heads nod in agreement.
“I mean it.” As we sat around the local bar, I rip a lined piece of paper out of my language notebook, and write in bold script on top What are you making for Thanksgiving? And our Ghanaian Thanksgiving was on its way. I signed up to help make apple pies, but moved to Team Turkey once I sensed the under-motivation brewing.
“The turkey is expensive, it’s not worth it.” Yes it is. It’s Thanksgiving, we are getting a turkey.
“Why don’t we just get a bunch of chickens? It’s the same price.” No, it’s Thanksgiving, we are getting a turkey.
“What about a pig?” “Oooooh, yea. A pig! That would be fun!” Ummmm. Nope. Turkey.
We returned the night before Thanksgiving after a week visit at our sites (stay tuned for next blog entry). That night, the PC staff informed us that more than half needed to travel to Accra to set up bank accounts. Team Turkey was significantly cut. It was down to Dan, his out of town friend Adam, and myself. We didn’t have a clue on how to kill, prepare, and cook a turkey, but we were ready to go. One of the trainees lived with a family that occasionally sells turkey, so we bought one from him. He also stuck around to show us the ropes.
We stood in awe of the beastly fowl, as the realization that we would be killing and eating it slowly dawned. “Oh man,” I say. “This is happening.”
I volunteered to end its life (with help of our gracious host). I wont get into the grizzly details, but it was much harder than one would think. But the rewards were well worth it. Not the eating the turkey itself (lets be real, it tasted more like tough fried chicken than moms Thanksgiving turkey), but calling home and telling my little brothers that I killed and de-feathered a turkey while they were watching the parade. Pass-the-phone went something like this:
“Stevo! I miss you honey. Guess who killed the turkey for Thanksgiving?”
“You did what? You killed a TURKEY!”
“Oh, Mick, I miss you.”
“Imissyoutoo. You killed A TURKEY!”
“Joe! It’s so good to hear from you! I miss you so much!”
“I miss you too. Heard you killed a turkey. Badass. Has it really come to this?”
“Hey Johnny, I miss you buddy.”
“Oh, I miss you too. But, did you really kill something? How do you live with yourself? How do you sleep at night? You could have eaten soybeans.”
“Frankie. Love of my life. I miss you.”
“Yo, you killed ya dinnah?”
Thanksgiving was wonderful. I think I ate enough turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, and apple pie to last me until next turkey day. I spent the day reunited with the volunteers and released all the stress from site visit. But more importantly, I was able to talk to all of my family at once. My life lines, my biggest support system, the people that get me through the rough days when they don’t even know it.
I don’t need a holiday to know what I am grateful for. I’m grateful for every last stinking one of you. I haven’t even started my service yet and you have all been my strength. Thank you for every email, letter, and package, and the overwhelming encouragement.