Jottings: Story traditions
When I was a young child, my life was filled with simple routines and freedoms. A favorite routine was this nightly ritual: When freshly bathed and in pajamas and robe, I would crawl onto my father's lap for a story. Nestled in, I would often hear the same, favorite tale of Bare Rabbit. Yes, I had books that were read to me but this nightly tradition was an oral story where I could let my imagination paint pictures.
Wisps of those still peek occasionally from my subconscious, bringing a smile, a feeling of love.
I shared this memory with Dan when our daughter, Jill, was born. Initially, Dan was most comfortable reading to her from the endless supply of children's books from our local library. In time he began creating stories for her. Though now grown, the following story remains one of Jill's favorites.
The Legend of Tom Turkey
Tommy had always been one of the tiniest turkeys in the whole turkey yard. The turkey yard was a mess with turkeys stretching in every direction as far as Tom's eye could see. Being the smallest turkey was not fun. Tom was pushed and shoved and knocked around by all the other turkeys and at feeding time he often had to settle for the leftovers because the bigger turkeys wanted to eat first and he could not get to the trough. One day Tom saw an ad in an old newspaper in the corner of the turkey yard, promising a way to be bigger and stronger. "That's for me!" Tom declared and wrote away to the address in the ad. He had almost forgotten about his letter when several weeks later, a package arrived just for him. All the other turkeys laughed as Tom opened the box and took out the dumb bells and book of exercises. Tom didn't care and soon he began a new, daily routine. While the other turkeys were just lollygagging around, Tom would be off exercising and running his daily laps around the turkey yard. "Look at that silly Tom turkey," the other turkeys would say. "He's running around just like a chicken with its head cut off."
It didn't take long for Tom to notice that he was starting to feel stronger. Soon he was able to start pushing his way into the trough to get his fair share of food. He kept exercising and he kept on running, first one lap, then two, then ten. Tom became the strongest and fastest turkey in the whole turkey yard. As the days began getting colder, Tom heard the rumors from other turkeys that they would soon be leaving to be Thanksgiving dinners. To Tom, being the star attraction, sitting in the center of a table with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, surrounded by drooling mouths, did not seem like an idea worth losing his head over. Whenever old farmer McDonald would come to the turkey yard and start gathering up turkeys to ship to market, Tom would run as fast as he could in the opposite direction. Of course, all the other turkeys would run, too, but since they were much slower and easily caught, the farmer soon decided to leave Tom alone. He was just too much trouble and was probably too tough an old bird to be very good eating anyway.
Tom survived Thanksgiving and afterwards sat down and had a heart-to-heart talk with the old farmer.
Tom soon convinced him to quit raising turkeys to be Thanksgiving dinners and instead to open a fast food restaurant which became a huge success. Forever after, Tom has been a hero to all turkeys. Now, if you ever go into a store and buy a turkey that says that it's "Tom," rest assured that it's not him.
E. Daniel Seymour (1946-2008) Edited by Josie Seymour to whom he bequeathed his stories.
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