This year, I started a new tradition with Addi. In the mornings on our drive to school, I tell her stories. It has not always been easy to do, there are days when I don’t feel like it, but she won’t let me off the hook. Some stories are more original than others, most are mash-ups of a couple different stories, and a few are just straight-up classics.
A couple of weeks ago I finished telling Hansel and Gretel, and Addi requested another story about the witch. It seemed like an odd request, but I went with it and came up with a short, corny story about Thanksgiving. And now I’d like to share it with you. I have lengthened it and tried to make it a little more interesting for an older audience, so without further adieu, here is the story behind why we celebrate Thanksgiving…
Once upon a time, in the middle of a dark, scary forest, there was a witch who lived in a house made entirely out of candy. As you already know (unless you didn’t read the part above this or have the memory of an ostrich), this was the witch who tricked Hansel and Gretel but did not actually get to eat them because they got away. Our story takes place many years after that story, and the witch is much older and consequently, much slower.
She still has an insatiable appetite for children, but it has been years since she has been able to catch one. It is not just her old age that has made it harder to catch the children; technology has played a key role as well.
Since smart phones now come with built-in GPS, children don’t get lost like they used to. And since Hansel and Gretel decided to tell their story on Oprah, children now know not to nibble on a random candy house lying in the middle of the forest. Between Oprah and Facebook, word has gotten out about the witch.
So one afternoon the witch was skyping with her other witch friends and complaining about her troubles. One of her oldest friends from Norway mentioned how it was no different there. Another witch then mentioned how she had stumbled on a very satisfactory solution.
Wild turkeys, she said. They can’t resist gumdrop doorknobs, are easily trapped, and taste rather like children if roasted a certain way. Most of the witches laughed and said their palates were much too sophisticated to eat anything but children, and soon the conversation ended.
But the witch could not get the idea completely out of her head. She was, after all, incredibly hungry. So the next day, she decided to build a trap and place one of her gumdrop doorknobs inside. The next morning, she raced to her trap and discovered she had caught a wild turkey. She took it home, roasted it, then tentatively tasted it. Much to her surprise and delight, she loved it.
For the next several weeks she stuffed herself on turkeys. She had forgotten how good it was not to feel hungry, and one day she actually decided to give up eating children altogether. It seemed like the right thing to do.
In fact, her steady diet of turkey was changing her. She was a much happier person. She was sleeping much better; she no longer battled indigestion; her doctor had even lowered her blood pressure medication (*The FDA cannot at this time confirm that consuming large quantities of turkey lowers blood pressure).
To celebrate this dynamic life-change, the witch decided to throw a party and invited everyone from the local village. She sent invitations out through Facebook and Twitter and also through the online dating service she was a part of.
Those receiving invitations were not sure what to do with them at first. There was much talk around the village water cooler about whether this was legit or a final, desperate ploy on the part of the witch to eat their children. I’m sure you can imagine the kind of long-term, traumatic effect a child-eating witch would have on a small village. They typically gave everybody the benefit of the doubt, but it was still incredibly hard to trust she had really changed.
Finally, the mayor decided he and his family would attend, and after this a few other courageous families committed to go as well.
The day of the party arrived, and the small group traveled into the woods to the witch’s house. She had a long table set up with chairs all around, and when the village people saw the table they gasped. There was dish after dish of salivary deliciousness: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, apple butter, cranberry and raspberry sauces, bacon, steamed broccoli, corn, green bean casserole… and the plumpest, juiciest turkey they had ever seen.
The witch welcomed them to her home and invited them to play some games before the feast began. There were sack races, and stickball, and the children even got to play ‘Just Dance’ on the witch’s Xbox Kinect.
And so everyone had a grand time, eating and playing and laughing together. Late in the evening, the mayor stood up and said he had an announcement to make.
“This is a day to give thanks. Our old enemy the witch is now our new friend, and I mean that quite literally. I just added her as my friend on Facebook with my iPhone 4. I seriously love this thing.
“She has promised to never again eat one of our children, and barring the occasional moment of weakness, I believe she’ll keep that promise. So as your mayor, I declare that henceforth and forthwith this fourth Thursday in the month of November is a new holiday, and we will call it Thanksgiving!”
And that is why we celebrate Thanksgiving with no school, parades, football, a dog show, and lots of turkey.