Gratitude. It’s the essence of every Thanksgiving holiday. Or at least it’s supposed to be.
Thanksgiving is that special, unique day of the year when we’re all supposed to gather with our family and closest friends and give thanks for the relationships that make up the framework of our lives. In our own unique and special way, regardless of where we live or how much money we earn or how much food we’re able to put on the table, we’re supposed to express our gratitude for the beauty that is our life—whatever that life looks like—and celebrate the people we get to share it with every other day of the year.
And believe me, I’ll be relishing in all that from the second my eyes open in the morning, until that last pumpkin whoopie pie is stolen off the dining room table.
But along with being thankful for having most of my family around me, under the same roof, laughing and sharing the positive energy of the day, I’m also going be thinking about someone I know who doesn’t share that same good fortune of his own tribe to be with on the holiday.
Someone who, for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t have even made it to Thanksgiving Day at all because of the solitary and dangerous life he’s led. Someone who’s out there in the world alone, wandering the streets, looking for handouts, without any real family or friends to be with on such a meaningful day.
The poor guy is a loner, for lack of a better word. And with the exception of a few people tossing him some crumbs here and there to ensure that he doesn’t starve, he’s got no one to rely on as he roams the streets day in and day out, barely a mile from my house.
It makes me sad when I think about him, actually.
Even though he keeps very much to himself, he has been known to stop traffic at various inopportune times during the day—especially at the height of school drop off and pick up—and peck at people’s car tires. I know, it’s weird. But I try hard not to judge.
His name, in case you were wondering, is Humphrey. And for the better part of about a year now, he’s spent most of his days meandering up and down the double yellow line on one of the busiest main streets in my town. Odd behavior, I know. But it’s just part of his quirky, eccentric personality.
Now you might think, in the spirit of the holiday, why don’t I just invite this obvious lost and needy soul to spend Thanksgiving with me and my family? And believe me, the thought has crossed my mind more than once. But the reality is, he’s a free spirit who has no interest in human contact. Plus, he has zero people skills. And even more than all that, I think he’d be highly offended if we put a turkey dinner in front of him and expected him to eat it. Because that would be cannibalism, which is ghastly.
See, Humphrey is a turkey.
Yes. Humphrey is a wild turkey who wanders the streets of my little town, darting out into traffic on a regular basis, staring down runners and walkers and bikers as they pass him in the street, and causing daily traffic jams during the rush hour commute.
He’s a goofy little bird, without a rafter of his own, who’s unofficial name is Humphrey because that’s the name of the street he runs up and down most of the time.
Pictures and videos of him are popping up all over social media. So much so that he’s becoming a Facebook icon. And since our town only has three main roads on or off our little peninsula, I’m guessing at least ninety-nine percent of our population has had some sort of run-in with him. Feels like he’s almost hit urban legend status at this point, with his own Twitter account (@MHD_turkey).
Look, I know to a lot of people, Humphrey is a pain in the ass who causes a scene every morning, disrupts traffic, and chases trash trucks; but he’s also a strangely endearing little guy who puts a smile on a lot of people’s faces, even in spite of his anti-social tendencies and terrible etiquette skills.
Honestly, it’s a miracle that he’s managed to peck the tires of SUV after SUV and still live to peck another day. I mean, the simple fact that he’s even made it to Thanksgiving is extraordinary, considering how many times he could’ve (or should’ve) been run over.
So this Thanksgiving, while I’m thankful for all the standard things that I’m grateful for every year—like family, friends, health, and happiness—I’m especially grateful for whatever small miracle has kept little Humphrey from being splattered all over Pleasant Street.
Here’s to you, Humphrey! You’re like the turkey version of a cat with all your lives.
Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at www.lisasugarman.com. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is and Untying Parent Anxiety: 18 Myths That Have You in Knots—And How to Get Free available on Amazon.com and at select bookstores.