When I was tiny, my mother found instructions for a soup can turkey in Highlights magazine – perfect for a Thanksgiving centerpiece. You wrap brown paper around a soup can, and add a turkey head with a big ‘ol gobbler, lots of colorful feathers, and wings. Making it quickly turned into a tradition. I can remember looking forward to the night, around the same time that I was completely out of Halloween candy, that my mom would pull out the supplies and together we would assemble our fine-feathered friend. (Beginning in 1991, when I got glasses, the turkey got a large pair of wire frames. But other than that, he always looked exactly the same. Although, I suppose the feathers became more defined as my scissor skills improved.)
As I got older, I found myself taking on more and more responsibility with regard to the turkey. I realized that mom was basically overseeing my painstaking attempts to perfectly glue googly eyes to a flimsy turkey face. I realized she didn’t really like making the turkey anymore, that her enthusiasm had waned. It was then I realized that my enthusiasm had waned, as well. I wondered how many years we had been subjecting ourselves to this craft only because we thought it was important to the other person.
We didn’t end the tradition there, though. I’m almost twenty-five and we still find ourselves seated at the same dining room table, shoving a pile of dilapidated art supplies back and forth. (“You make the feathers.” “I did them last time. You’re better at feathers.”) It’s somewhat of an inconvenience. Not something I exactly look forward to anymore. But I promise you this – that turkey will be perched on our dining room table for all to see. We don’t want to let anyone down, who might have been anticipating our annual family soup can turkey. (Dad – admit it. You love it.) We also don’t want the world to explode – something we fear might happen if we were to break tradition.
So if you haven’t already, I urge you to find a tradition with your child (that she may or may not dread doing with you twenty years from now.) Because as a kid, I think I liked the security that tradition brought me and I really have good memories of my mom. If you’re shopping for a tradition, I’ve included instructions (and a sexy photo) of our turkey. Oh, and Mom, if you’re reading – I call not making the feathers this year. It’s your turn.
Here’s what you need to cut out:
Soup Can Turkey
Take off the label off a soup can and trace it onto brown paper. That’s your body.
Trace two circles from the can onto the paper, and cut those out, too.
Add a neck and head to the top of one the circles.
Cut out feathers, a beak, feet, and a gobbler. Don’t forget the googly eyes!