An initiation of sorts takes place at our family Thanksgiving feast each year.
Starting with the the oldest of three sons and passing down through six grandsons and one granddaughter, our patriarch Philip Gresham teaches each family member to carve the bird just right.
In the past, no one escaped the impact of his precise instructions and often sharp criticism.
This year, my father-in-law passed on delivering the carving lesson, and a new guest volunteered to teach the next-in-line family member.
It is also our habit to invite to the table new friends who might not have another invitation for the day. Or if they do, they choose to join us anyway.
Another “come here” to Northeast Georgia from Atlanta, Brooks Garcia filled an extra chair this year.
Growing up in Buckhead, but spending summers at Camp Cherokee, Brooks is a talented blend of the renaissance variety. A gardener by vocation, he seeks sustenance from the land in many ways, including the harvesting of deer from his Northeast Georgia land. Also an accomplished chef, he knows culinary anatomy, so dissecting the Thanksgiving fowl was a straightforward task.
And although not official by blood or legal union, Maggie Bergmann is the long-term love of my No. 2 nephew. It was her turn to take up the knife.
My husband and his two brothers added critical commentary to be sure Maggie’s lesson included the requisite smack talk.
The pre-meal task accomplished, there was one additional lesson to share with the younger set.
There are three great-grandchildren on my husband’s side of the aisle – two boys, 7 and 5, and one toddler girl, 2. After nibbling a bit of meat from the prize, Maggie pulled the two boys aside to whisper the story of the wishbone.
As she directed Maverick and Finn, I watched Maggie’s face change as she told them only the winner would have his wish granted. It was clear she was uncomfortable telling the boys that there would be a loser in this simple contest.
Several of the observers were quick to point out we are NOT an “everybody gets a trophy” family.
She repeated the command – “1, 2, 3 – PULL” – several times.
Quite rubbery after removal from the breast of the bird, the process didn’t go well as there was no time for the bone to dry out. The determined duo twisted and tugged before Maverick ended up with the bigger sliver.
What to do?
Before anyone could crow about winners and losers, Maggie, quick and creative, pulled the pair outside, sharing a P.S. to the tale – “if you bury your piece, both wishes come true!”
As I observed this spirited and thoughtful young woman on Thanksgiving, I made a wish for a shift in thinking. For a softening of my heart to allow for creative solutions to sharp issues.
That is a lesson worth slicing up to share.

Words • Images • Stories

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