Being an uncle has certain responsibilities in life. If you are a good uncle, you tend to make sure that your nieces and nephews gravitate to your way of thinking, which is mostly centered around doing things that upset their parents. I try to be a good uncle.
My nieces and nephews are all grown up and most have kids of their own now. Yet back in the day, family gatherings were partially spent on encouraging activities to my nieces and nephews that my siblings or wife’s siblings frowned upon. Which leads me to the story of the Great Turkey Fairy.
Everyone knows about the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and of course, Santa Claus. I felt it was time that Thanksgiving had some form of promising character that kids could get excited about. After all, Thanksgiving is kind of a bore to most kids. They sit around with old people, eat vegetables, and then have to help wash dishes and watch the Detroit Lions, which could be construed as a violation of the 8th Amendment’s “cruel and unusual” punishment clause.
Being a good uncle, I decided to induce some excitement into Thanksgiving one year by introducing two of my nephews to the legend of the Great Turkey Fairy. The story goes like this….each night after Thanksgiving, the Great Turkey Fairy goes around and rewards kids for being good at Thanksgiving Dinner by leaving money under their pillow that night. Kind of like the Tooth Fairy, but you don’t need to lose teeth in this case.
A typical five- or six-year-old would of course have some questions about this. Such as, how does the turkey get into the house? Well, the Turkey Fairy uses magic that can only happen if you put a soggy turkey wishbone under your pillow that night. However, the Turkey Fairy is known to like larger bones like drumsticks, but in a pinch though, any bone from the dinner turkey will do.
Other questions you need to be prepared to answer include what does the turkey fairy look like? A giant turkey of course, wearing a pilgrim’s hat and bow tie. How does the turkey fairy get around to all the other kid’s houses? The Turkey Fairy uses a special turkey train that goes from house to house, as unlike reindeer and Illinois drivers on I-90, turkeys can’t fly. Where does the Turkey Fairy live? Everyone knows that turkeys live in Madison, at the State Capitol of course!
Now that we have established how the turkey gets in, what it looks like, gets around, and lives, the next line of questioning has to do with how much money are we talking about here? This is the point where you can see the child wrestling with the “risk vs. reward” mentality, as they can clearly envision their parents would not be happy with them sticking chewed on turkey bones under their pillows. I like to think that I am contributing to the child’s mental development and character by eventually, perhaps years later, teaching them not to believe everything they hear.
Even the most intellectual and suspicious kid under the age of 10, and some adult in-laws you might have, will question the validity of the Turkey Fairy. To which it is important to provide some reassurance that you have personally been rewarded year after year by the visitation of the Turkey Fairy. In fact, you estimate that you have made some decent coin from the Turkey Fairy as a kid, enough to buy a new bike, pay for college, or even put a down payment on a new Mustang.
You can see where this story is headed and how unappreciative certain parents were when their kids snuck saliva-covered turkey bones with grandpa’s denture impressions into their coat jackets that eventually found their way under their pillows. You can also imagine how disappointed the kids might have been the next morning when the Turkey Fairy didn’t deliver.
If you are a good aunt or uncle, feel free to share my legend of the Turkey Fairy this year. A word or warning, expect a phone call the morning after Thanksgiving in which the parents of the disappointed children will scold you and insist you come over and wash the bedding or pay for the child’s counseling. Ultimately, the parents will put you on the phone and demand an apology to their son or daughter who was duped by you. Which in all sincerity, you should explain to your impressionable niece or nephew that this is their parent’s fault, as they must have scared the Turkey Fairy away somehow and to just try harder next year with perhaps more bones and throw in some cranberry sauce for good measure. And hey, have you ever heard of the Toilet Mermaid?
Brian Landers, a former Dells mayor, writes a weekly column for Capital Newspapers. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.