I've been a vegetarian for over 15 years now. I kinda know the ropes. But raising a vegetarian? I'm only five years in. Essentially a newbie. Which makes Jack a newbie too.
Case in point. Kindergarten. I wasn't aware of this, but the day after Halloween, kindergarteners begin a month's worth of celebrating what, for many, has become the focal point of Thanksgiving. TURKEYS. The kindergarteners get into the spirit of Thanksgiving by crafting scores of the birds. Cut-and-color turkeys. Cotton-ball turkeys. Paper-plate turkeys. Coffee-filter turkeys. Handprint turkeys. Turkeys embellished with waddles, wings, and feathers that feature all types of mixed media. Some really fantastic turkeys have come home in Jack's backpack. Surprisingly artistic, given the subject.
What also came home in Jack's backpack was a note to parents, letting them know that kindergarteners would be treated to a Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch. With kindergarten lasting only 1/2 day here, it was a very special treat indeed–Jack had never eaten school lunch before! After receiving the note, Jack and I talked in the car about the upcoming Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch:
Me: "So, a Thanksgiving lunch sounds really fun! You get to eat at school like the big kids who stay at school all day."
Jack: "So, will they make me eat turkey at the lunch?"
"No, baby, they won't make you eat anything. You get to pick and choose what you want on your plate. If you don't want something, you just tell the lunch ladies and they'll skip it."
"Okay. But mom, what does turkey look like?"
Hmm. I was stunned into a short silence. Certainly the turkeys served on Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch day were not going to look like the turkeys Jack had been crafting all month long. Jack has seen a real turkey here, but that turkey was alive and running around. What to do?
Ah, yes. I knew the subscription I bought from my niece for a school fundraiser last year would come in handy some day. It's Better Homes and Gardens to the rescue!
Me: "I have a magazine at home that's all about Thanksgiving dinner. I bet they'll have a picture of turkey in it somewhere. I'll show it to you when we get home. Then you'll know exactly what it will look like at school lunch."
We arrive home. I get out the magazine. I find a full-page color photo and point out to Jack what turkey looks like.
Jack: "Can I tear out this page and put it in my backpack? On the day we have the Thanksgiving school lunch. Just so I remember what it looks like."
Me: Sure, honey, we can do that."
Here is a photo of the photo, all ready for Jack's backpack on
Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch day.
Jack enjoyed his Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch on Thursday. He ate mashed potatoes, peas, bread, and a pumpkin goody. Did he need to use the photo after all? Nope. He told his kind teacher that he was a vegetarian, and she helped him along.
I'm so glad she did. Because, after taking a closer look at the photo above, I noticed the caption on the page:
"Loin of Pork."
Geez. I really have been a vegetarian for a long time.
Whatever you choose to grace your table with on Thursday, here's wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!