I wish I didn’t care if you ate a turkey today. I wish Thanksgiving was a holiday for pigging out on bushels of kale. Piles of garlic. Mountains of potatoes.
I’ve never been a strict vegetarian. I’ve been a vegan. I’ve juiced. But for most of my life I’ve been a well-meaning eater. An occasional tuna sandwich enjoyer. A mostly organic veggie muncher. And a head-over-heels animal lover.
To each his own. I like that saying. I’m a believer of that saying.
But man…I love/hate Thanksgiving.
Because one day, not long ago, I met a turkey. A turkey named Alphonso. And he changed me.
I introduced myself to him. He sat calmly as I felt the layers of his white feathery coat, as I ran my fingers across his gloriously textured, rainbow-tinted head. It was soft like an ear lobe. And warm. Like a hand you hold on a stroll. Like an arm resting around your shoulder at the movies. Like a friend.
He was warm and sweet and unforgettable. At one point I loved him more than my husband. And we still argue about it to this day.
I love his clumsy feet. His wayward glance. His beautiful ugliness.
I love him because he’s flesh and blood and heart and feather and he let me take this picture next to him, like a Disney character at Magic Kingdom.
These are Alphonso’s feet. It’s not uncommon for turkeys destined for the slaughterhouse to have the feet of an old sea captain; rough, calloused and downright painful. Thankfully, Alphonso’s tired old dogs are tended to with love by the very fine folks of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.
We spent a day here this summer during our road trip to NY. In our farm garb and boots, we shoveled hay, fed pigs, and tickled the chins of many a goat. It was heaven.
Its own magic kingdom of sorts, Woodstock Sanctuary is a non-profit dedicated to saving the lives of farmed animals. Each animal has a name here. Each animal has a chance at a better life.
Whether it’s helping an injured sheep to walk again, making a comfortable home for a disabled pig, or providing food and shelter to countless chickens, pigs and rabbits rescued from the city’s slaughterhouses, the work of Woodstock Sanctuary is meaningful, heartbreaking, and necessary.
Every animal has a story to tell.
And a personality.
It’s easy to fall in love at Woodstock.
The real free range.
Evidence of a past life.
Through their website, community outreach and volunteer program, they help teach people about the abuses farmed animals endure behind the curtains of our food systems. They bring awareness about the harm we’re doing not only to sentient beings, but to our one and only planet. If that’s not enough, they also have a fantastic website where you can meet each animal. Like Alphonso…
The great news is that you can DO SOMETHING super kind and unique this holiday: You can sponsor a turkey!
From their website:
You can help us care for our feathered friends by Sponsoring A Turkey here at Woodstock Sanctuary. It’s an affordable way to help us cover the costs of providing shelter and care to farmed animals in need –and they make wonderful, inspiring gifts! With each sponsorship, you’ll receive a beautiful card that includes a color photo of the turkey you are sponsoring along with their story of how they came to us and a bit about their unique personalities. (See more about the life of the millions of less-lucky turkeys here.)
Another option, and to assure receipt by Thanksgiving (Nov 24), you can choose to send a Sponsor A Turkey eCard to your gift recipient–or just to yourself in lieu of a card and as a paper-saving option.
Right ON, Woodstock. Way to be. Way to help the world one charming creature at a time. And thank you for having us as guests on your beautiful farm this summer. We’ll never forget our experience.
And I couldn’t wrap up this post without a little help from my friend Rob, who reminded me of this great poem by Shel Silverstein.
Thanksgiving dinner’s sad and thankless
Christmas dinner’s dark and blue
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey’s point of view.
Sunday dinner isn’t sunny
Easter feasts are just bad luck
When you see it from the viewpoint
Of a chicken or a duck.
Oh how I once loved tuna salad
Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too
‘Til I stopped and looked at dinner
From the dinner’s point of view.
From the bottom of our little veggie hearts, we wish you a very happy ThanksLiving.