The Thirty-Pound Christmas Turkey: 1893

HAUNTED BY A TURKEY

How the Christmas Present of Thirty Pound Bird Destroyed a Man’s Peace of Mind.

There was an expression of despondency and care on the face of my friend Craggs when, a few days after Christmas, he took me aside and inquired in a quavering voice if I would take the gift of a turkey. He had a discouraged and almost hopeless air, as though he feared I was going to refuse to accept it.

“Thanks, old man,” said I, “I’ll take it and welcome.”

If he had been a street vendor and I had said, “I’ll buy your flowers,” he couldn’t have looked happier.

I could see that something was burdening his mind, but of course had no idea that it was the turkey itself.

He suddenly broke down all at once, grasped me by the hand and said huskily that it was a kindness he would never forget; that he would do as much for me some time, and went on in that style till I began to half fancy that in a fit of temporary insanity he might have stolen a turkey and was trying to get rid of the property in this way.

Then it occurred to me that I might have misunderstood him and he had really asked me to give him a turkey—which, of course, I couldn’t do, for obvious reasons—and the cold chills began to creep up my back.

For a moment it was perhaps the oddest predicament I was ever in. Then my friend Craggs regained his composure and explained himself this wise:

“You see, old fellow,” said he, “I have a turkey that’s an elephant on my hands—an incubus—a monster, and it all came about in this way.

“My wife and I keep house alone by ourselves, and on Christmas Day we had a turkey dinner. The turkey was a modest bird, who had never aspired to be a giant, but had contented himself with remaining juicy and tender.

“As a result of these modest aspirations and achievements of the fowl there remained of him after our Christmas dinner just enough to satisfy our appetites for turkey for some time to come in the way of perhaps another dinner and a few scraps for lunch.

“At this juncture, however, a package arrived at our house addressed to me, which upon being opened, proved to contain a turkey of herculean proportions, sent to me by a sister who lives out of the city on a farm.

“It was a regular Jack Falstaff of a turkey—the biggest I ever laid eyes on—with drumsticks bulging like hams, and a mighty corpulency withal, which told of good living and boundless ambitions in the matter of fat.

“Mrs. Craggs, being a thrifty housewife, was of course, delighted, but I am bound to confess that, though having a sneaking fondness for my stomach, I could not figure it out otherwise than this: That, there being but two of us to eat a turkey which would tip the scales at nearly thirty pounds, here was a prospect of having to endure that diet for weeks.

“I saw that it needs must follow, as the night the day, that that confounded turkey, in some form or other, either roasted or boiled or fried or chopped or fricasseed or mashed or hashed, would form the basis of my daily meals for days and perhaps weeks.

“I even feared, in which case, that the flavour of turkey might get so indelibly absorbed into my palate that it would never die away, forever casting a blighting flavor upon all my favorite dishes.

It took me hours to convince Mrs. Craggs that it was our best interests to give that turkey to some one of our friends. Then I felt relieved, but I soon found that my troubles had only commenced. It was too soon after Christmas, and the turkey was too big. Not one of my friends wanted to take a contract to cook and eat that bird. They were tired of turkey already, they said.

“As it was a present I couldn’t think of selling it. The awful fact stared me in the face that I had got to eat that turkey or bust—perhaps both, in natural sequence.

“I’ve been chasing around all day carrying, mentally, that turkey, but I’ve got you in my clutches at last, and you shall not escape me. But come, first, and we’ll open a small bottle.”

New York [NY] Herald 31 December 1893: p. 14

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil is reminded of the axiom: “Eternity is a ham and two people.”

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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