I have a Thanksgiving quandary.
One of my kids hates the holiday.
You would think a kid with ancestry dating back to Plymouth Rock would feel obligated to enjoy a holiday manufactured around his quasi-ancestors.
So entrenched in American history are my kids, they have code names lifted from the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. My husband’s family fought on that Pennsylvania field, their names memorialized on a wall.
We borrowed those ancestral names – Silas and Titus – to talk about our kids without the kids knowing we’re talking about them. When it comes to parenting, we are at the level of Peter and Lois on Family Guy.
The kid we call Titus has long despised Thanksgiving. Titus hates parades, turkey, and mashed potatoes. An introvert, Titus gets twitchy with relatives he hasn’t seen since last Thanksgiving ask about school.
Titus also hates school.
Last year, we planned a quiet Thanksgiving at our cabin.
Let me interrupt here to say with my talk of Plymouth ancestry and family cabins, I sound like I have a silver spoon in my mouth.
Rest assured the only thing I share with Ricky Schroder is a birthday. My dad has grease under his nails and our cabin has a toilet plunger shaped like a rifle.
The cabin Thanksgiving never came to pass. Titus started that week with a head cold. The day before Thanksgiving, that kid looked me dead in the eye and said every pandemic parent’s three favorite words: “I can’t smell.”
So we quarantined. My godsend of a mother-in-law cooked a whole Thanksgiving meal, stuffed it into Tupperware, and left it on my doorstep.
Titus ate Cheerios.
Now that Thanksgiving has rolled around again, Titus is getting angsty. My other kid, code name Silas, last night pointed out the disparity of Titus’s thinking:
“Titus likes Christmas and hates Thanksgiving. But if we play holiday music in November, Titus gets angry. You’d think Titus would want to skip Thanksgiving and celebrate Christmas as early as possible!”
Silas has a point.
Titus has had a difficult go of things this year. My husband and I have spent many weeks discussing how to navigate the holiday landscape with – and for – this kid.
We reminisced on our cabin Thanksgiving that wasn’t, fantasized about doing it this year.
“I could make moose!” my husband exclaimed, as we currently have a freezer full of the cervid, procured in Canada.
I sighed. This is life with an outdoorsman. Thanksgiving moose and parties with sliders not of mass-produced beef but wild elk. Those sliders don’t begin on a slab of Styrofoam. They begin wherever elk live.
Still, it’s tough to argue against the Thanksgiving moose. Even the storied Pilgrim Thanksgiving probably didn’t have turkey. And there’s a certain appeal in a Thanksgiving protein earned from the land.
I decided to consult Field & Stream for more information on wild game Thanksgivings. Living with an outdoorsman, Field & Stream has become my beef bouillon – I don’t use it often, and it makes me think of my grandparents, but when I need it, there’s no substitute.
In their Ultimate Guide to a Wild Game Thanksgiving, T. Edward Nickens and others share recipes for three game animals – turkey, goose, and duck.
The only member of my household that eats duck is my husband, and then only surreptitiously. While I consider myself the facilitator of my husband’s mission to massage our kids into being the outdoorsman he is, sometimes I have a little fun with it.
So when Titus declared his love of ducks, I picked up eight duck eggs.
And incubated them until they hatched.
We held baby ducks. We fed baby ducks. We put baby ducks in our bathtub.
So Titus doesn’t eat duck because it might be the duck we named Mabel and that’s just bad pool.
This doesn’t mean Nickens’ beautiful prose doesn’t move me – I wanted to drive to his house for Thanksgiving after reading his sections of The Ultimate Guide. But it’s a slippery slope.
You see, Patriot-News ran this piece on the history of having raccoon for Thanksgiving.
The piece caught my eye because I just watched a show on Netflix where raccoon was the main meal. Even though it wasn’t the trash can surfing raccoons ubiquitous here in Bucks County, my stomach could not separate the two.
“That’s my line in the sand,” I told my husband. I’m usually, well, game for anything he brings home. But I’d struggle with raccoon.
President Calvin Coolidge felt the same way. Instead of consuming the raccoon he was gifted for Thanksgiving, he took my duck egg route.
It became the family pet.
Which is a bit much. I’d rather eat the raccoon than live with it.
Last night, we decided to have a moose Thanksgiving at the cabin. No parades. No questions about school.
Just a rifle toilet plunger.
And one much happier kid.