Armed with a thorough and organized list, I push my cart up and down the aisles of our local one-stop shopping mecca. I know that shopping on the Sunday morning before Thanksgiving is asking for trouble, but I am determinedly cheerful.
Two carts blocking the aisle while the women they belong to are completely absorbed in their label studies? No problem. "Excuse me, can I get through, please?" With a smile that I mean.
Halfway through the store, as I check the list that I am sticking to like dried mashed potatoes to a bowl, I realize I forgot the shortening which is several aisles back. No problem. I park my cart on the end of an aisle and congratulate myself on the extra walking I'm getting to do.
Once back at my cart, Crisco in hand, I notice that someone either crashed into it, or decided to rearrange it at a jaunty in-the-way angle. No worries. No harm. I push the corners of my mouth up another notch as I push my cart toward the cat litter aisle. It's blessedly quiet here and I take advantage of the oasis to study my list and my coupons.
This is where things start to go sideways.
I realize that I have a coupon for a turkey that will be mine for free if my total at the register exceeds a certain astronomical amount. I have definitely spent that amount, due in large part to the exorbitant cost of canned cherries that I have to have because my brothers asked for cherry pie (one of the few things our mom baked that we all love) and I'm not about to disappoint them because someone somewhere has surely confused the value of cherries with the value of rubies.
I already have a turkey in my shopping cart. This bird spent its life on a farm, grazing peacefully on sweet grass and insects, basking in sunlight, sleeping in a sweet-smelling coop with her sisters and brothers. Her death was humane and she gladly gave herself so that I can enjoy healthy and tasty sandwiches all weekend long. Or at least that's what the packaging said.
The free turkey, on the other hand, spent its wretched life cooped up in a windowless, airless factory with thousands of other wretched birds, fed corn and antibiotics and who-knows-what. It was probably glad to die just to end the wretchedness, but all the wrapper tells me it that it is full of broth and butter and that I don't have to worry about anything because of the handy dandy pop-up timer.
As I stand by the freezer section studying the wretched turkey, which will cost me nothing, and glancing into my cart at the happy turkey, which will cost me a pretty penny, I am frozen with frustration and indecision.
I only need one turkey. I want the happy turkey. It seems wasteful not to get the wretched turkey. I could get both and give someone the wretched turkey, but that feels too much like my students giving me the Halloween candy that they don't like. Also, how do you find someone to give a frozen bird to? If I get the wretched turkey, I'm perpetuating cruelty and unhealthy practices. If I get the happy turkey, I'm wasting money.
For a while I wander the store with both turkeys in my cart. I consider leaving the cart and the store and the dilemma behind, but I need those damned cherries. I consider no turkey at all, but can't imagine Thanksgiving weekend without turkey sandwiches. I run the conversation through my head where I explain to Walt that we'll be doing peanut butter and jelly this year, and know for sure that no turkey is not an option.
There is a wretched turkey in my freezer. I got it for free. A happy turkey is still calling to me from the store. I'm pretty sure the wretched turkey would be calling if I had left it behind. I wonder if Walt would mind if I raised my own turkeys for next year.
picture from Flickr