Turkey Day Saga: When More is Not Better

Hi, my name is Judy and I am an addict.

My brain chemistry dictates that if something is good that more must be better. All I need for my "fix" is the opportunity to get more and/or a crisis to prime the adrenalin pump.

One Thanksgiving I got both.

Our local supermarket was giving away free turkeys. All I had to do was spend $150 and a free small turkey (12-16 lbs.) was mine. If I spent $250, my reward was a large turkey (18-22 lbs.).

You have to understand -- no one in my family is wild about turkey. My weighed-and-measured meal plan doesn't allow more than 8 oz. per day (12 oz., if I ate it for breakfast, too).

Besides, I don't even like turkey.

But mesmerized by the free offer, I earned my first prize a week-and-a-half before Thanksgiving. It was a lovely freshly-killed 14 lb. bird that we fed off for a week.

I am an addict; an addict who accumulated enough register tapes to get an additional 18-22 lb. bird. In fact, I could have gotten a large bird and another small one, if there was room in our small refrigerator.

Despite the urging of my daughter to "cease and desist this turkey thing," I continued to focus on the words "more," "free," and "deadline" (the free turkey had to be picked up by close of business on Thanksgiving Day).

A plan emerged. I would buy the big turkey on Wednesday, cook it Wednesday night, cut it up, freeze it, and on Thursday, get our third free turkey.

The "more" part of my addictive thinking was satisfied. Now for the crisis part. Every good junkie needs adrenalin. I am no exception.

Between the crowds, jockeying for a parking place, finding the biggest bird, and wrestling with a sea of hands all after that same free turkey, there was plenty of excitement!

But more was to come.

First, I must confess that it's been a real long time since I cooked a 20 lb. bird.

I dutifully placed Tom in the roasting pan, popped him in the oven, and planned to go about my business for the next six hours as he cooked.

Four hours later, I hosted an Internet conference on "Food Addiction." While listening and talking with folks about addictive food issues and resisting the temptations of the holiday season, I smelled something burning.

As I approached the oven I heard the sound of grease hitting hot surface. The juices from this over-sized turkey had splattered over the sides of the pan and were burning on the floor of the oven.

Being a curious addict, I opened the door to my gas oven. Flames shot up at me.

Whether it was reflex, or having heard the "The Three Little Pigs" one too many times, I tried to huff and puff and blow the fire out. It seemed like a great idea but until I thought to turn off the gas, it kept burning!

I had the image of our local fire company hosing down the charred remnants of my house. Fortunately, the flames died down and, being a good co-dependent, I returned to hosting the Food Addiction conference.

I shared my crisis with my co-host who gave me wonderful hints on how to cook the remaining parts of the turkey by microwave, toaster oven, and by making soup.

Oh -- and I got a really good tip on how to clean an oven.

I didn't go back on Thanksgiving Day for that third turkey. I think I hit my "more" and "free" bottoms simultaneously.

I was sure I was powerless over offers for free turkey and our house was turkey-free for the rest of the year.

But this year is different. I mean, my supermarket is offering free hams. I am sure I can handle free hams without losing control. Anyone can handle ham.

Like I say, I am an addict.

- Judy Shepps Battle


Judy Shepps Battle has been writing essays and poems long before retiring from being a psychotherapist and sociology professor. She is a New Jersey resident, addictions specialist, consultant and freelance writer and has been published in a variety of venues.