Sorry Free Birds

I just can’t believe the Christmas lights I’m already seeing. I saw a Christmas tree in a window on October the sixteenth! My Halloween jack-o-lantern is just now barely drying up with its snaggle tooth smile all turned in on the front porch, but the channels coming from my satellite dish are full of movies already showing Christmas shows on TV. Charlie Brown doesn’t come on ABC for his Thanksgiving special until Thanksgiving night, but Santy Clause is already at the mall! It seems to me we are missing something somewhere and I don’t know how to slow this modern-day process of pushing time. We should all be thinking of good memories of family, our many blessings in life, home-cooked fattening foods and most of all, how we can combine all of these wonderful experiences into one jam-packed day called Thanksgiving.

Even the movie folks are attacking traditional Thanksgiving by putting out an animated children’s movie called Free Birds where two turkeys travel back in time to get turkey taken off the holiday menu for good. This sounds like an attack on motherhood and apple pie to me. Instead, they suggest replacing Thanksgiving turkey with pizza. Pizza for Thanksgiving!?! That has got to be as un-American and as unworkable as the first day of the Obamacare website. I can just see fathers now turning in their carving sets for a pizza cutter. Please! Give me a break.

The next thing you know, somebody will want all the turkeys to get a pardon and be set free. Oh, yeah”¦ the President already does pardon a turkey every year and sets it free, but let’s not forget about what Thanksgiving is all about. It’s the turkey and the dressing. Right? Wrong.

I feel we need to re-examine what Thanksgiving is all about.  It is a time to give thanks for our many blessings, and our country, as a whole, has been well-blessed. Sure, there are problems and there always will be, but Thanksgiving is a time to share our blessings and thank the God above for the families we have and the hopes we have for the future. During that first Thanksgiving the first families who celebrated this holiday had problems that would have made our Obamacare and budget concerns look like a walk in the park. They were thankful just to have food on the table and someone to share it with.

One of the greatest blessings we have as Americans is the abundance we do enjoy in this country. As families gather around their dining room tables this Thanksgiving, many will enjoy a safe and affordable bounty of food products.  Nowhere else in the world will the amount and variety be found like what will be exhibited on tables across this country. From the turkey to the pumpkin pie and the cranberry sauce to the dressing, America’s citizenry will enjoy a day of eating like no other, especially before and after shopping for even more stuff.

I am sure many of you noticed I do like to use the term “dressing.” To me “stuffing” is something you would find in a couch or a previously live animal that now hangs on the wall. Dressing is made from a mixture of cornbread and other great tasting items that no one can put together like my mother or my late wife. That is another thing to be thankful for on this special holiday. No matter where you live or what you call it, you have the freedom to do so without any problem or fear.

It has been reported that this year’s Thanksgiving meal will even cost you a little less than last year’s average feast due to a decrease in the cost of the turkey and some other items.  The fact is that the average meal’s cost has remained nearly the same since 2011, making the American consumer’s food dollar spending remain stable at this time of the year, particularly when adjusted for inflation. In a recent survey conducted annually for the last 28 years by the American Farm Bureau, items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.04, a 44-cent price decrease from last year’s average of $49.48.

The survey shopping list included turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There was also plenty for leftovers. You will notice that pizza was not one of the items and the turkey didn’t get pardoned. Sorry Free Birds.  

Let’s take advantage of this day and give thanks for what we have. The malls can wait, but the thanks we give to the One who created it all comes first. He should not be left to have to sit at the second-table.

Hold off on Christmas a little while longer and have a Happy Thanksgiving. Be sure to enjoy your dressing!




– Pettus L. Read writes for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at