November 20, 2007

Cold As a Frozen Turkey Butt

Would you stand outside in the frigid winter air for an hour on a Saturday morning for the chance to win a turkey? Would you do it for five Saturdays in a row? Would you keep up the ritual for decades? My mother would.

Every year between the middle of November to the middle of December, my hometown hosted Turkey Drawings. On Saturday mornings, people would gather in a parking lot where they would receive a ticket upon entrance and wait, hope, and pray that their number would be called to receive a free turkey.

The odds seemed pretty good with 25 free turkeys each week only about 300 people lined up to possibly win. Not impossible odds at all, right? Sure. There was hope.

There was no income requirement to participate. You didn't need an invitation. If you didn't mind turning into a human Popsicle, you could come. My mother didn't mind, so we went. Bundled in multiple layers of clothing, we knew better than to complain. The best we could hope for was that Mom would win early and we could leave.

When my brother and I were old enough to stay home alone, we were also old enough to possibly pass for 16 years of age, which was the minimum age requirement to get a ticket at the entry, so we still had to go to the Turkey Drawing. I know the lies of omission about our ages was just wrong, but we're talking FREE TURKEY! How happy Dad would be we we won a turkey! Oh Tiny Tim, what if there were no Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? We need a free turkey! It tastes so much better!

In retrospect, it was such a thrill to win a turkey that I wonder if turkeys were expensive in the 70's and 80's.

You know when you find yourself in a miserable, yet temporary situation how you psyche yourself out by thinking, "This will be over soon. It's only an hour. That's nothing. Think pleasant thoughts. Don't think about your frostbitten toes. Your scarf has not just frozen to your face. You can do this"? (Okay, maybe without the frostbite part?) Well, I mastered the skills of tolerating misery as a kid while waiting for my mom to win a free turkey on frigid Saturday mornings in northeastern Utah. Endurance, man! Move around a lot. Stand still. Huddle in with the crowd like a bunch of penguins. Nothing changes. It was still 20 degrees.

And on especially cold days do you think we stayed home? No! Other people might stay home (wimps!), so there'd be a better chance of winning! Turkey Drawings are not for the weak.

Did my mother ever win a turkey? I think she must have at some point over the years, but I cannot remember that miraculous day at all. That memory never thawed.

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