My DH, at many times in his life, has been a youth leader at church. This year, after a hiatus of doing other things at church, he’s back with the youth and so he wanted to revive an old Thanksgiving tradition: The Annual Turkey Shoot.
The young men were supposed to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for about 30 invited guests, including empty nesters and folks who might be alone or away from their family for the holiday. The young women were assigned the job of decorating. They provided table decorations, fresh flowers, fall leaf garlands, and these crafty little ornaments and fridge magnets that they put together ahead of time so each guest could have a memento of the event. DH ended up getting some already cooked turkeys and pumpkin pies from Honeybaked Ham. The only real cooking was minimal: baked sweet potatoes, mixing up packages of cornbread stuffing, throwing packages of frozen green beans into a pot of boiling water and simmering for 10 minutes, and pouring jars of turkey gravy into a pot and warming it up. There were also packages of rolls from the grocery store and margarine sticks on the tables, and pitchers of ice water. About 35 people sat down to eat.
Each youth was to serve as a personal waiter to a guest, asking what they wanted (i.e., “Would you like gravy on your stuffing?” “Would you like whipped cream on your pie?”) and then going to the kitchen and preparing and serving each plate of food.
More than that, the youth were asked by the leaders to go and sit at the tables with the guests and talk with them. “We know you might feel like you want to sit with your friends,” counseled one of the leaders. “But go and sit with the guests. Ask them to tell you stories, things about their lives and some Thanksgiving memories.” The kids learned that one lady had been in the military, and another man had once lived in Cebu, the island in the Philippines that is now serving as a staging area for the relief effort after the Supertyphoon went through last week.
Then came the entertainment portion of the evening. Traditionally, the turkey was shot using whatever implements of destruction the young men devised at the time, be it paintballs, slingshots, blow darts, bow and arrows…but this year one of the boys had a friend who taught him the art of throwing knives. So he passed along his instructions and let everyone who wanted have a go.
Calling on his woodworking and engineering skills, DH made the turkey out of two sheets of plywood and bolted them together with a screwed-on panel across the back. He transferred the design onto the boards by using the graph method. He drew a grid of squares onto the picture and then a larger grid onto the boards. By eyeballing and drawing what was in each small square into the corresponding large square, he had a pencil outline of what he wanted it to look like. He wanted to use latex paint, but alas, the only colors he could find at the hardware store were red, yellow and black. That’s why it is an orange turkey instead of a brown one. I discovered that I liked the idea of painting something that was going to be riddled with knife-wounds by morning.