Resolving the Turkey Conflict

Turkey Conflict
The Turkey Conflict

This is the time of the year for the turkey conflict. Thanksgiving is the day we Americans set aside to give thanks. It is most likely the only day when everyone makes an effort to enjoy a meal with their family. The day can be painful for anyone that does not have immediate family around or because of past family conflicts, being around is not practical.

For some reason, it is assumed that the meal will be turkey in some form or another. This is not the turkeys that wandered the woods near Pilgrims’ settlement. It is not even the turkeys that are infesting my neighborhood. One has taken up residence at the gas station that I frequent. While everyone is pumping gas, it is admiring itself in the reflections of the cars and trucks. No the turkeys we insist on eating are bred to be the high point of this one meal a year. That they are bred reduces them to the lowest common denominator of blandness.

Long ago, I developed a total dislike of this type of turkey. If I was to be psychoanalyzed, a connection to the corresponding family discord might be discovered. But being thankful that I am an American, I exercise my God given choice not to eat turkey without being psychoanalyzed.

My dislike started out in my youth. Only turkey was served for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Those dinners were rotated between my aunts in San Francisco and our house. There was intense competition between my mother and my aunts to find the most economical bird. In other words, they would look for the cheapest per pound bird and would go to great lengths to secure it. At one point the record was 29 cents per pound. Even in olden times that was extremely cheap. The taste matched the price – cheap.

One year, my mother, after considerable nagging by the family, invested in a Butterball turkey. That is the kind with the little read button that pops out when it is perfectly done. As was her habit, she put it in the oven before dawn. After the requisite number of hours, the little red button popped out right on queue. Unfortunately, the family was not due to arrive until 1 p.m. and it had reached perfection far faster that previous cheaper birds. Therefore she left it in the oven until noon. There is the dinner scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where everyone watches the dead bird shrivel and is still force to eat it – I’ve lived that.

After marriage, the “discussion” as to having or not having turkey resolved itself. My wonderful wife one year decided to have a big turkey feast with all of the fixings. She purchased a quality frozen 25 plus pound turkey. While readying it for defrosting, it fell out of its perch in the freeze and aimed for her big toe. The ‘pope’s nose’, followed by the other 24 pounds, hit its target with dead accuracy. We spend the entire evening in the emergency room. The toe was broken. Unable to barely stand let alone cook, the job of cooking the dead bird fell to me. Convinced, that was the last time we served Meleagris gallopavo aka dead bird.

I am thankful for a multitude of blessings. One is the privilege not to eat turkey if you don’t want to eat it. May you be thankful for all of your blessings this season and may you avoid the turkey conflict.


Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman ( has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

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