Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Dec. 2, 2011

Turkey with a 'tude

I'm not much of a shopper. So by the time I arose from bed the day after Thanksgiving, many had already been in the stores for hours with their fellow Black Friday bargain hunters. Daughter Katie was planning a noon-time departure for the stores, but I was content to stay home.

I suppose I could have fallen in with those who use the day to decorate for Christmas, but I didn't succumb to that either. In fact, I spent most of the day in pajamas - grading some papers, doing a load of laundry, paying a few bills, and shredding old receipts and other documents.

But every now and then I'd pause from those mundane tasks to enjoy our Thanksgiving decorations. Before he left the house for the day, husband Art asked me not to take them down just yet.

"Don't worry," I assured him. "I don't like to rush things either."

Every year, I try to use various natural elements in my decorations. Last year, I filled a wooden Bolivian bowl my sister and husband gave us with bright yellow ginkgo leaves. This year, I used pine cones, sprigs of bittersweet and acorns and finished it off with an old cookie cutter shaped like a turkey. I set it on our dining room hutch and surrounded it with family photos.

Art noticed the small glass orange vase I had set out and suggested I pour fresh cranberries into it. It made a simple, but elegant centerpiece for our Thanksgiving table - and we could eat the cranberries later!

I placed several large pumpkins and gourds on the front steps and arranged smaller gourds, pine cones, green hedge apples and milkweed pods in Uncle Bud's old hand-made wooden tool box.

But much of the magic of a holiday is tradition. So my favorite decorations by far are the ones daughter Mariya, now 25, and Katie, who turned 19 on Thanksgiving Day, created when they were youngsters. I keep telling Art we have to get rid of the louvered doors separating the kitchen from the dining and living room as they are so old fashioned. Still, I have to admit that they provide the perfect place for displaying the girls' autumn leaves, Pilgrims, and Native Americans.

But it is the turkeys that are the big hits of the "show." One is made from a clothes hanger and pantyhose. Another has a toilet-paper-roll body. Paper plates, string, construction paper and tissue paper are among items used to craft others.

The girls' hands provided patterns for those with fully-fanned tail feathers. They are brightly colored and very unlike any real turkey I've ever seen. Art had suggested to Katie that they should catch a turkey, dye its tail feathers and then let it go, musing over the shock some hunter would have when he saw such a brightly colored bird in the wild.

At our Thanksgiving gathering, Mom's friend Stan said he thought it was special that I had saved the girl's decorations and use them each year. Sister-in-law Linda inspected them carefully, possibly with the thought of using some of the ideas in her pre-school classes.

Art said that of all the birds, his favorite was the "turkey with an attitude - the angry turkey, kind of like the 'Angry Birds' in the video game."

"It's not angry," Katie protested. "It just has a lot of make-up on."

"She's right," I said after inspecting it closely. "It has eyelashes and green eye shadow."

But Art maintained that at a distance you couldn't see those details. And so for the rest of the day, every time Katie said her bird was making a fashion statement, Art would respond with, "It's a turkey with a 'tude!'"

Left: Katie and Mariya with their turkeys in 2003; right: Mariya, spouse Lacey holding Lacey's niece and Katie with turkeys this year while "Turkey with a 'tude" looks on.

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