Why Our Thankful Turkey Looks Different This Year :: The Burnt Out Mom Edition

Why Our Thankful Turkey Looks Different This Year :: The Burnt Out Mom Edition

The thankful turkey: it’s an autumnal staple in the average preschooler’s life. You’re probably familiar with the concept, even if you don’t have one in your own home. A thankful turkey is simply a brown paper turkey body with a new feather added each day up to Thanksgiving. Each feather has something your child is thankful for written on it – a visual concept of gratitude.

Our peacock-esque turkey!

My family is on its fourth year of doing the thankful turkey, and while I’m no less grateful than any other year, I’ll be honest – I’m way more burnt out.

I’m also a recovering perfectionist. Four years ago, I could not have imagined what my thankful turkey would look like this year, nor would I have believed you if you had described it to me.

The first year I did the thankful turkey with my son, I went all out. I carefully cut out all the feathers in different colors, arranged and re-arranged them as we added them to the turkey body, utterly pleased with its final, colorful display. The things he was grateful for ranged from sweet to silly, as only a three year old can find gratitude for. The next year couple of years, the answers got simultaneously more sincere and more hilarious. I so looked forward to what he would say and how I would construct this turkey. When baby brother got in on the fun during year three, our turkey, with feathers bursting out every which way, looked more like a peacock– but how we loved it!

Fast forward to this year. First, we didn’t start on time. I always start on November 1, but that day came and went. The turkey body didn’t even go up on the wall until November 5. Perfectionist Me would have had to grill the kids for five days’ worth of backtracked thankfulness to make sure we had the right number of feathers. Recovering Me told myself to just start on Day 5 and go from there.

The effort of just putting it up was about all I could give. I absolutely could not make myself cut out feathers, let alone plan out the different colors to distinguish the kids’ answers. So I dug through my craft closet and found the next best thing to serve for feathers: wooden spoons. (Why are there a million of those in my closet? Blame 2020 quarantine crafting.) Wooden spoons are not my idea of a cute turkey feather, but they were available, required no effort on my part, and the kids didn’t care. Perfectionist Me wanted to set it all on fire, but Recovering Me went for it.

Want to see the turkey in all its glory (or lack thereof)? Prepare to laugh…

I may cringe a little bit when I look at it, but it’s still getting the job done (mostly). We’re well into November now, and I’ve definitely missed a couple days even since starting on Day 5. But I didn’t force it. We just keep moving forward.

Our turkey looks beyond ridiculous. I know it’s not about how perfect the turkey looks or how often we update it. It’s about the conversations about gratitude that it creates. And even with wooden spoons and irregular updates– our turkey’s doing just fine.

Erica Tran
Erica lives in Kenner with her husband Michael and her three sons, Benjamin, Joshua, and Elijah. After graduating from UL Lafayette with a degree in advertising and landing her dream job, she left her chosen field and now works part time as an administrative assistant for a Catholic retreat movement. She spends the rest of her time at home with her boys, finding lost toys and actively ignoring various messes. In 2019, she self-published her first book, The Sister. There's not a lot of free time between working, reading and writing, and chasing her kids, but in those moments she's usually sprawled on the sofa in casual denial about just how messy her house is.


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