Turkey Coma

Happy (belated) Canadian Thanksgiving! By the time you read this post, you should be recovering from a “turkey coma” and eating leftovers! We had ham this year, but I have a turkey sitting in my deep freezer for an occasion when I feel the need. So, it got me thinking… why turkey? What fun facts can I learn from such poultry? Who discovered it? And why did God let such a darling bird grow into a grumpy, yet impressive thing? If you’ve been following mittonmusings for any length of time, you know my fascination with chickens… but turkeys could be on a whole other plain. Toms are mean! They will (and have) attacked people. The babies are cute, though…

Baby turkeys are cute!

The male (tom) turkey is the only one that “gobbles”. Allegedly, the girls make a “purring” noise when they are content. Who knew? The females are more like chickens… and I can’t argue with the fact that God made them quite beautiful. In fact, turkeys were once bred for their colourful plumage — not their meat. And an impressive plumage it is: an adult turkey can have 5-6 thousand feathers! Think about that next time you find a stray fluff on your dinner… imagine the Pilgrims plucking those things by hand?!

Now. Back to “Turkey”. How did they get such a name? Apparently, the Spaniards first discovered them in Mexico in the sixteenth century and took them back to Spain as part of their discovery spoils. Eventually, the gobblers made their way to England around 1541 and were given the “exotic” name of an export associated with the Turks. (A “Turkish hen”) Confusion? Yup.

Not from Turkey

Still, the birds sure tasted good, and so became a staple eat. Especially at Thanksgiving. We have the Americans to blame for that one. Roasted turkey became a traditional dish after the American revolution when the British loyalists fled to Canada as refugees and brought the meal with them. And so it stays. 39% of the total sales of Canadian turkeys in 2018 were set aside for Thanksgiving dinner. However, Christmas sales totalled 2.7 million birds: 42% of the total year’s sales. A second in the holiday stats? Do we love Christmas turkey more? Maybe only in Canada.

Canadian Thanksgiving, for those of you not from around here, does differ slightly from our neighbours to the south. Not only in our choice of dates, but our holiday involves less football, there’s no big parade, and certainly no black Friday shopping. We get less time off and we tend to focus on the three F’s: food, friends/family and fellowship! Turkey or no turkey.

In fact, our Canadian Thanksgiving is more associated with the harvest season. In 1859, the ministers tried to ask the colonial government to initiate the holiday of Thanksgiving to “thank God for His existence — evident by His bountiful Harvest granted to His people” (a little different from the focus of our American counterparts).

And harvest can be a beautiful time. The weather is great, the colours are fabulous, and the food is plentiful! A perfect excuse for a holiday! Although, I did muse as we drove through the colourful tree-lined roads this weekend: What beauty is in death… the fall colours are really a bunch of tree leaves dying and preparing for a long, hard winter. Sorry, I digress.

Thanksgiving turkeys. Whether you like a stuffed bird or not, the holiday should be about more than the food. Thanks – giving. God reminded His people to celebrate, and celebrate often, in remembrance of all He has done for us! Especially now. In this world so full of despair and darkness, our attitude of gratitude should be all that more evident. I am trying to remember this every time I look at my grocery bill! Thank you, Lord, that I am able to provide for my family. Many are finding it increasingly difficult these days. Is it just me, or are prices going up all around us? But this is a muse for another day. Perhaps, I do need to think about having a few turkeys in my flock of someday-hope-to-have-chickens. I’ll start with the cute little ones.

Bringing in the Sheaves

Sheesh! Can you believe we are already in November?! The time is flying by and winter will soon be upon us! I was thinking a bit about this as I was looking around at fall decorations door to door. The harvest season is all but completed and people have hay bales stashed on the front steps. They also have these little bundles of dried grasses bunched together. We have one as part of our fall decorations at church. Do you know what they are called? It’s called a “sheaf”… the plural of which is “sheaves”. Does that word sound familiar? In case it doesn’t, “Bringing in the Sheaves” is an ancient hymn penned by an American named Knowles Shaw, who was inspired by Psalm 126:6.

“Bringing in the Sheaves”

Many will recognize it from “Little House on the Prarie” … the little chapel congregation always seemed to be singing it whenever the Ingalls family attended church. Interestingly enough, it was also featured in the horror film “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and the 1966 version of “Batman”! Talk about the gospel in strange places! Here are the lyrics:

“Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,

Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;

Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,

Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;

By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. (Refrain)

Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,

Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;

When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. (Refrain)”

Knowles Shaw, 1874

Obviously the old fashioned hymn makes references to the farming harvest. But how powerful of an example is this to the Bible’s idea of sowing the good news? It’s hard work to labour and toil (ask any farmer!) but the fruits of your labours are certainly worthy of rejoicing! Such is also true of the follower of Christ who shares His love. The servant attitude and sometimes tedious faith journey is hard work! Sharing your faith is not easy — especially in the world we live in today! Yet, the joys of “bringing in your harvest” is certainly cause for rejoicing, not only in the heart of the new believer, but also in your own!

So, before the snow dusts the world in white, remember those bundles of straw we put out on the porch steps… and what they represent, then smile as you “bring in your sheaves”.

The Best of the Harvest Season!

Welcome back to another week of mittonmusings! It was a lovely fall day, today, and I reflected as I walked the puppy in the sunshine. I also bought a couple of pots of beautiful fall mums for my front porch. * Sigh* Tis the season of sweaters, pumpkins and corn husks! In Canada, the seasonal change of autumn marks another opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors… the leaves begin to change colours and the crisp air reminds us it’s time to prepare for winter.

It sparked a little debate recently – this idea of “the fall season” – and all it’s goodies. What would you say is the true fall taste or flavour? Are you a die hard pumpkin spice latte fan? Or is apple fritter and warm cider your go-to? A few years ago there was pumpkin spice everything!! Maybe apples are passé and only come around in September when it is back to school and all that.

What gets you excited about in autumn?? Photo by Alex Geerts on Unsplash

Either way, Covid has put a damper in all the farm visits and pick your own adventures. No fall fairs happening… at least not the traditional ones. I don’t know about you, but drive by visits simply can not be the same as getting down and dirty with some farm critters… am I right? No cider samples. No corn on a stick. No candy apples and fritters. Hmmmn. Smell all the smells. Taste all the tastes. Hug some chickens.

The Harvest Season has always been a time of rejoicing — even in Bible times. Jews celebrated the grain harvest and the Feast of the Tabernacles with abundant joy and thanksgiving for all God’s good gifts. He has provided, not only from the Earth, but through His teachings and blessings. It was a time to gather with friends, family and yes, even foreigners, to celebrate and share the blessings… both physical and spiritual. Covid restrictions aside. Here’s to hugs and good food!

Interestingly, the Spring Harvest was the Israelite’s more “important” time in terms of crop gathering. The major crops of the land in that day (and maybe even now?) were wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and honey. Wheat and barley were the staple of the people in those days and constituted over fifty percent of the average person’s total caloric intake, followed by legumes (e.g. lentils), olive oil, and fruit, especially dried figs (Judaism: Practice and Belief, 63 BCE-66 CE, 1992, page 129). Grain harvest was in the spring, so technically, it was more vital to their survival than the fall Harvest. I think Canada only gets rain and worms in spring. Still, the fall festivals were the ones to enjoy! Be merry, the Bible tells us!

And yet, no matter when the crops are ready, the point of the celebration is the same. The Bible describes our heavenly father as the “Lord of the Harvest” (Matthew 9:38). You see, the blessings and provisions we enjoy don’t actually belong to us… they belong to the “Lord of the Harvest”. And His message is twofold: we are blessed, and we are blessed to bless others. Many of you will remember our “30 Days of Blessing” Challenge… we designed it to remind us of exactly that fact. It was a practical way to share a little kindness each day… not only to ourselves but to those around us.

And so, my friends, as you drive thru and savour your next pumpkin spice latte, or devour your next apple fritter, remember that God’s beauty is not only in the falling leaves, but in the choices we make each day. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. It’s difficult for me to see the needs of others easily. Some of you are truly gifted in this way and are constantly doing good works. I need reminders. Maybe that’s why God made so many markers out there: fall colours, sweet smells, delicious tastes, cool breezes. Maybe that was His was of saying, Look! I am the Lord of the Harvest, and I’ve made all this for you!

Be blessed, friends! Happy Fall!