Since 2001, the adventures of Bill Carman's Super Turkey have marked BW's Thanksgiving cover. Over the years, Super Turkey has been joined by the League of Extraordinary Side Dishes, Cranberry Boy and Dr. Tofurkey. When he made his debut, Super Turkey stood defiantly, proclaiming "I am powerful. Try pork this season," while a pig in disguise mused that he didn't think pork was that great of an idea. This year, Super Turkey and Cranberry Boy are sporting their own disguises and once again, pork makes an appearance.
In my house, pork is unlikely to make a Thanksgiving appearance. Sorry, Super Turkey, you'll be Cajun-rubbed and deep-fried if my clan has anything to say about it. Growing up, we smoked our turkeys. I remember saying thanks for food and thanks for my house, yadda, yadda. As a kid, the thanking was just the thing that had to be done before the eating could begin.
These days, after spending a few lonely Thanksgivings in far-flung corners of the world, I see things differently. I don't thank some unknown force or being for what I have. And I don't do it simply to skip faster to the eating. These days I know what hunger looks like. I've seen starving children in Cambodia, Bolivia, Fiji, Morocco ... I've given them food and money, knowing that no matter what I do, the next day their battles begin anew.
This morning, I had a driveway moment with NPR in the parking lot outside BW's offices. I sat in the car listening to a story filed from Zimbabwe about the country's current food shortage. Some people are so desperate for food, they're plucking undigested bits of corn from animal dung, washing it off and grinding it up to eat.
It's a real problem that the imaginary Super Turkey and his team cannot solve. Nor can you, as real as you may be. But rather than give thanks in some vague and insubstantial way, really mean it this year. After all, you're sitting down to a feast, not a handful of dung-covered corn.