Boxes, Turkeys, Thanksgiving and My Dad

19 Nov

Two 10-12 lbs, four 12-14 lbs, three 14-16 lbs …

This is how it started … however most people remember their dad carving the turkey, leading the blessing on Thanksgiving, or parked on the couch in a vegetative state watching football game, after football game. Those are the most vivid memories for some people during the turkey holiday season.

For me it was the boxes. The small ones and the big ones.

… Three 16-18, two 22-24, one 30-32 … every Thanksgiving week there were the boxes.

As a member of the Guat family I was required by blood to help out. Every year, every Thanksgiving season the masses gathered at my dad’s poultry shop placing orders for their  no antibiotics, no hormones, free range, turkeys.

The boxes … the dreaded boxes.

One of the busiest seasons in the poultry business and I dreaded it every year. Those boxes. Those Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday boxes filled with orders. My sister and mom got lucky, they were at the forefront answering phones, handling the money and taking the orders. However all they did was take. Take. Take. Take. It had not dawned on them what happened afterward. Where did all those cards go?

Two 24-26, one 18-20, three 20-22 …

In my head. That’s where. They got stuck in my brain. Every night. I’d have to double-check each and every order to make sure it matched up with what we had in inventory.

Just one of the walls in the ginormous fridge  … keeping all those gobble-gobbles.

Inventory. Jeez. Freezing my ass off, in a refrigerator as large as my living room and surrounded by boxes, while my sister and mom were up in the front chatting it up with our regular customers and new incoming ones. I mean I don’t know who decided that I should be in Rocky-Balboa-style refrigerator, but it sucked being in this caste system. There was no getting out of it. No promotions. No face time in front of the store. Just me, the ginormous refrigerator, with freezing temperatures that required gloves and constant usage of Chapstick,  and boxes  and boxes of free range turkeys. Big turkey boxes everywhere.

That was me … large and in charge of all the boxes. Order boxes and turkey boxes. The class system sucks.

So after a long day of wearing thermal underwear in order to withstand cold temperatures, I went home to deal with the small boxes. Every night during Thanksgiving week, there I was at the kitchen table with my dad — in serious turkey order mode. Him in his white butcher coat, me in sweats and a t-shirt, both of us exhausted.

He’d read the orders out loud and I’d jot it down on my chart. This was of course, pre-Microsoft Excel days. But even during post-Microsoft Excel my dad insisted on the paper and pencil method. He was old school and all about having something concrete that couldn’t be erased. So it was the old paper and pencil. We’d develop our own rhythm and finish the boxes in about an hour and a half. 12-to-14 lbs and 14-to-16 lbs. I must have heard those numbers more than any other. By the end of the night, I so hated numbers.

But on Sunday, when I sat with those boxes alone, I so missed hearing those numbers. The thing I dreaded the most — those boxes, those 14-to-16 note cards– brought me such sadness. It was a different kind of quiet on Sunday night and tonight. It sounds lame to get all weird-ed out over some boxes, but there I was getting really sad because my dad was not there. His voice was not there. The rhythm was off.

It took me a little longer to complete my inventory chart as the memories of past years kept swirling around in my brain.

Oh, dad. Miss you much, my friend. Miss you much.

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10 Responses to “Boxes, Turkeys, Thanksgiving and My Dad”

  1. TBM November 20, 2012 at 1:06 AM #

    A touching post. It is odd the stuff we end up missing was the stuff that drove us crazy. Sending you positive thoughts this holiday season.

    • The Guat November 28, 2012 at 12:48 AM #

      Thanks for the kind words. It was a really tough night and you’re right … It is weird that I ended up missing some of the most tedious tasks. I think about that often 🙂 Thanks for the positive vibes 🙂

  2. island traveler November 21, 2012 at 8:02 AM #

    I saw myself in our post. My parents too had a business growing up from poultry, raising pigs, restaurant to roasting chickens which they marinate themselves. When I was younger I remember wishing for quiet , less chaotic moments, of holidays where it was more about “our” family celebrating over a feast of food and tons of merriment. Now I realized the ones I dread are the ones I miss the most. They were unique events that shows bonding together us a family. Of helping each other out, sharing stories, special moments and laughter. This is what Thanksgiving is all about. Beautiful post. Happy a thanksgiving.

    • The Guat November 28, 2012 at 12:49 AM #

      So true! I did miss those Oh-no-not-this-again chores or moments. Stuff like inventory in a freezer or a box of cards. It was a trip. But you’re right they were unique events that bonded us together. Thanks for the kind words and support. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

  3. Andrea Kelly November 21, 2012 at 4:49 PM #

    I absolutely love when you share the memories of you and your dad. It’s so touching to me that you had such a great relationship.

    (Also – that’s the kind of Turkey we always get!)

    • The Guat November 28, 2012 at 12:51 AM #

      Thanks for the compliment. It was a tough day and night. But thanks for you support and for stopping by. It’s a trip that you guys get the Diestel turkeys. Ha! TV soul mates with the same Thanksgiving meal. Meant to be … 🙂

  4. Cayman Thorn November 21, 2012 at 9:39 PM #

    Guat- This is where the flavor of your writing really comes out to play; in your passionate weaving of memories. Gets me every time. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • The Guat November 28, 2012 at 12:52 AM #

      Thanks so much for your awesome words my friend. I’m glad you enjoy my dad stories. I like it when people get to know my dad through my stories…I like it even better when they appreciate the relationship. Thanks for stopping by, hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

  5. shrinkmuch November 29, 2014 at 4:23 AM #

    This was beautiful….just beautiful 🙂

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  1. Reblogged From The Wish Factor – “Boxes, Turkeys, Thanksgiving and My Dad” | The Hand-Written Life - November 26, 2013

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