Here is the backup bird !!! – Muncie Journal

By John Carlson-

With only one day until 2022, I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate an outstanding new advance in American meat culture that my family brought to 2021.

It’s the backup bird.

But first some background. If you sum up the years we’ve lived, Nancy and I had 143 Thanksgiving. What’s even more impressive is that if those Thanksgivings were stretched end-to-end and measured one at a time instead of simultaneously, these Thanksgivings would go back to 1848, and I think we all know what happened that year. Yes, the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. But in all these years we have never felt the need to buy a replacement bird for Thanksgiving.

Until this year …

This year I’m looking forward to the end of 2021 almost as much as I am looking forward to 2020, which you may remember like shitty.

But 2021 was not a picnic either, as it was marked by COVID, inflation and, in particular, food shortages and delivery difficulties. This embarrassed me when I received news that some highly gifted members of a respected meat “think tank” had raised concerns about the turkey shortage. OK, OK, they weren’t exactly very talented members of a reputable meat think tank. They were guys I had a beer with at Fickle Peach.

Even so, her mere mention of “turkey shortage” made me panic. You see, Nancy and I always have Thanksgiving dinner while our colleague-in-law from Muncie, Tom and Alicia, have the Christmas dinner.

They make ham. We make turkey.

Hosting dinner requires a degree of trust from the host family that the food of their choice will be available. I just didn’t want to sit there with a stupid, expectant grin when Nancy carried our turkey platter to the table, lifted the lid and apologetically revealed that we were going to feast on Eckrich Lil ‘Smokies.

But given my pals’ scary turkey predictions, I got nightmares. You know the species. I would fear that our precious bird was shipped to plucking from Muncie to Bolivia and then loaded naked as a jay on the bottom deck of a rusty Panamanian cargo ship, guaranteed to get back here in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving dinner 2044, that is.

So Nancy and I have sworn that if we got the chance, we would spend two birds to avert such a shortage.

What we did …

The first turkey was frozen and a bit skinny at only 13 pounds, not what would be called the sharpest beak in the bird crate, if you get my point. Nonetheless, it was a bird and as such it immediately joined my popsicles in the freezer. Now we were covered if something was screwed up with our main bird, who turned out to be a chubby little eater weighing a whopping 18 pounds that was delivered fresh from a local meat market in time for Thanksgiving.

This taught me that there is only one real downside to buying two birds. That’s because your surrogate bird, even one who only weighs thirteen pounds after joining Weight Watchers to avoid the Thanksgiving meal, is eating a lot of freezer space. This is usually space you would devote to healthy foods to start your New Year nutritionally, like steak-umms, Klondike bars, and White Castle Frozen Breakfast Sliders.

Anyway, our main bird saw us sent through Thanksgiving.

But just a few days before Christmas, as we needed more freezer space for some vitamin-packed Totino’s Pizza Rolls that we wanted to invest in, we decided it was time to dig turkey number two out of the freezer and eat it too.

Eating a turkey this late in the year almost seemed weird, a kind of turkey overload or turkey beautiful seen. Knife in hand, you thought, didn’t I make my Norman Bates shower scene out of “psycho” thing a few weeks ago, chop off the cooked turkey carcass?

Then you remember: Oh yes, that was our first bird.

Here’s one thing nobody tells you about buying two turkeys. Oddly enough, the process of cooking and eating two birds mimics the stages in how we humans deal with grief.

There is a shock, like in “I ate” two Turkeys? But I’m not even full! ”There is denial, as in,“ If I’ve eaten this second bird, how come there aren’t any feathers on my lips? ” And there is depression, as in, “When I get to heaven and the first thing I hear in the pearly colored gates is a godly, authoritative“ SEAL! ”My butt will be deep inside.

Still, I have to say that our two turkey plan worked quite well aside from the possibility of unforeseen perpetual consequences.

For one thing, our kitchen gave off the delicious smell of roast turkey twice. Also, around the time I wish we had more turkey left over for extra turkey sandwiches on rye with mayo and Dijon mustard, dangerous if we didn’t have a whole extra bird value!

So I think I can already see how this will develop in the years to come. Buying a replacement bird becomes second nature and routine. Then there will be shortages, say, yams I think who gives a rat a patootie? But there will also be bottlenecks at Wick’s Sugar Cream Pies, to which I will yell “God bless us all!”. like Tiny Tim when buying ten or twelve backup cakes.

Yes, it should work.

John’s weekly columns are sponsored by Beasley & Gilkison, Muncie’s trusted attorneys for over 120 years.

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John Carlson, a former longtime feature writer and columnist for The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana, is a storyteller with a tireless appreciation for the wonderful people of east-central Indiana and the stories of their lives that are fun, poignant, inspiring or all three. John’s columns appear every Friday on

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