It was the afternoon before Thanksgiving. Rain glistened on the pavement as the grocery truck made its last stops.
“I’ll take that big order into the Smiths while you run across the street with that small order,” James Vance told Tom Burton, who was helping him deliver last-minutes grocery orders. James stopped the truck and Tom picked up the bag of groceries and started across the street in the rain.
Tom was back before James, and he looked to see how many more orders they had to deliver before they could go home. There were only two left besides the small bag of groceries for his mother.
There was one big package without any name on it. Tom felt it to see what it was. It was a turkey! He was sure of it, a turkey without any place to go! He wished that it belonged with his mother’s groceries.
Only this morning he had said, “Mom, I wish we could have a turkey for Thanksgiving just once.”
Mom had smiled fondly at him. “It would be nice, Tom,” she agreed, “but a turkey is big and costs lots of money. I’m even thankful we can have a chicken, aren’t you?”
Tom thought of the small chicken in his mother’s bag of groceries. It was not one of the nicest, plumpest ones; but Mom would cook it along with all the trimmings, and it would taste good.
“I wonder whose turkey this is,” Tom thought as he reached out to touch the large round package.
James was whistling as he came back. He stopped to check his book before starting the truck. “Two more stops, Tom,” he said. “Then I’ll leave you at your home with your groceries.”
The truck moved smoothly forward, and Tom rode silently in the back. James whistled a merry tune as he guided the truck through the streets. “First stop,” he called, and Tom took a bag of groceries and ran to deliver them.
“One more stop,” he thought, “and then I’ll be home.” He reached out his hand and felt the bigness of the turkey in the extra package. He wished that he could take it with his groceries. Wouldn’t Mom’s eyes open wide if he came home carrying a huge turkey?
Tom’s Thanksgiving Turkey, page 2
“Next stop,” James called in a few minutes.
It was raining harder now. As Tom ran through the rain he thought of how glad he would be to be finished for the day. He liked his work helping to deliver groceries, but he was getting wet and cold and tired. Today had been a hard day.
When he came back to the truck, there was Mom’s bag of groceries—and the extra turkey. Maybe he should ask James if he knew about it.
“That’s all, except for your groceries,” James called back to him.
Well, why shouldn’t he take the turkey along with his groceries? They didn’t have it on their delivery list. No one would need to know that he had taken it. He could tell Mom that Grocer Brown had given it to him. He had worked hard enough to earn it, delivering all these groceries in the rain, he told himself.
“Here we are, “James slowed down the truck.
Tom opened the back doors of the truck and slipped out quietly with Mom’s bag of groceries under one arm and the turkey under the other.
“So long, Tom. Happy Thanksgiving!” James called.
“So long, James,” Tom called in a choked voice.
As he started up the walk, he kept expecting James to come running after him, telling him that he had made a mistake. But the truck moved swiftly down the street, and Tom breathed a sigh of relief.
He flung open the kitchen door where Mom was busy getting supper. “Just put the groceries there on the table, Tom,” she said.
“I have a surprise for you,” he said proudly.
She turned toward him with a smile, but he couldn’t look into her eyes. What would Mom think of him if she knew that he had taken the turkey and that it was not really his? But it was too late now to put it back where it belonged. Mom was already unwrapping the package.
“Such a lovely big turkey,” she exclaimed. “Where did you get it, Tom?”
“Uh—Grocer Brown gave it to me.”
“How nice of him! I must call him and thank him right away!”
“Oh, I wouldn’t do that Mom,” Tom said hastily.
“Why not, Tom?” Mom looked surprised.
“Well, it’s just that—that Mr. Brown doesn’t like for people to be thanking him all the time.”
Mom looked at him strangely. “That’s odd,” she said. “Did you thank him?”
“Uh—uh—yes,” Tom stammered.
Just then little Judy came running in. Her eyes opened wide at the sight of the turkey. “What a BIG chicken,” she said.
Mom laughed, but Tom didn’t feel like laughing. I’m going up to change my wet clothes,” he said instead.
Tom didn’t sleep well that night. When he awakened the next morning, the smell of roast turkey was already filling the house. It made him feel a little sick. He went to church with the rest of the family in the middle of the morning. Everyone seemed to be happy and thankful, everyone except Tom. He had taken something that did not belong to him, and had lied to him mother about where he got it. He knew that he had done wrong, and he didn’t feel like praising God at all.
While he waited for dinner, he listened to the radio. Suddenly the program was interrupted by a news flash. “The police are hot on the trail of someone who has stolen turkeys,” the announcer began. Tom’s heart sank, and he felt sick all over. He breathed a sigh of relief when the announcer finished the story. It was someone else.
When Mom called him to dinner, he went slowly. Such a feast as she had prepared and spread on the table! And he didn’t feel like eating! After grace was said, the plates were passed. Tom’s plate was heaped high with turkey, dressing, potatoes, peas, and cranberry sauce.
He picked at his food a little and then tried a bite of turkey. It almost choked him. How he wished it was the scrawny little chicken that his mother had planned to cook for them.
Finally he pushed his chair back from the table, “I’m not hungry,” he said. “I’m going out.” He grabbed his jacket and cap as he went out the front door.
Tom hurried down the walk as fast as he could to Grocer Brown’s home and rang the doorbell. “Well, Tom,” Mr. Brown greeted him, “I’m glad to see you.”
“You won’t be glad when I tell you why I came,” Tom said.
Tom spilled out the whole story about the turkey and how he had taken it from the truck. He finished by asking Mr. Brown to forgive him, and he promised that he would work for him for no wages until the turkey was paid for in full.
“Tom,” Mr. Brown said when he had finished, “I’m sorry you did what you did, but I forgive you; and I’m sure you won’t do anything like that again. The turkey was put on the delivery truck by mistake,” he went on, “it was a rather small one, worth about twelve dollars. Suppose you work for me from now until Christmas. Then we’ll consider the turkey paid for.”
Tom gulped. He thought of the long hours delivering groceries during the Christmas holidays with no chance of saving money for the nice Christmas gifts he would want to buy. But he knew that Mr. Brown was being fair with him, so he nodded his acceptance of the offer.
“Now, Tom,” Grocer Brown said, “You’ve asked me to forgive you, and I have, but have you asked the Lord’s forgiveness?”
Tom shook his head. Then Mr. Brown invited him to kneel with him and together they prayed, claiming the promise of God, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
When he arose from his knees, Tom felt really happy. He felt clean from the awful sin that he had allowed to come into his life.
“Now, go home, Tom,” Grocer Brown said, “and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner. I’m sure your mother is keeping it warm for you. You see, she knows all about it. She talked to me this morning after church. We were praying and waiting to see what you would do.”
“I wasn’t hungry before, but I am starved now!” Tom said. “I think I could eat the whole turkey myself!”
Proverbs 28:13: “He that covereth his sin shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy”
"Tom's Thanksgiving Turkey" was provided by a friend and host of the Blog site The Shepherd's Presence.