Turkey Hands. Every child has made one. A crafty tradition sent down through the ages. I have fond memories of coloring my “feathers” in red, yellow and orange, always thinking it a work of art that I couldn’t wait to share with my mom. Later, I would receive my own turkey hands. They would go up in the place of honor, the fridge door, on display for any guest to see. And when it was time to make room for the next work of art, I would take these precious gifts and tuck them away safely in a keepsake box, knowing that one day I would look at these little crafts and see the passage of time within them.
I don’t remember when I stopped receiving these turkeys , just one day the fridge became bare of crafts and gold star homework.
When you are with younger children, time seems to stand still, the days lasting ever so long. Everything is a major orchestration of choreographed movement that inevitably dissolves into chaos. My time was filled with ideas to hold their young imagination – backyard treasure hunts, dress-up tea parties, art galleries, and more. I think I had as much fun as the kids did, despite the fact that I had cleanup duty. As they grew older the play became more developed, they had their own ideas now and launched on adventures of their own creation. We saw the birth of the backyard play, Nerf battles, and video reporting thrown into the mix. But through it all the table remained a glittery mess of construction paper and tape for various crafts that would be displayed throughout the house.
Just like the turkey hands, these things stopped as well. Though there is still art being made, it is hidden with sketch books or posted on their own wall for display. The fun and games now take place on electronic devices or away from home so that I can no longer be a spectator of their antics. And the imagination, though alive and well, is reserved for “appropriate” times as the adult world demands all.
But when I miss my little ones, need a reminder of how small they were, and to relive all those adventures, all I have to do is pull out one the turkey hands, and marvel at how little my babies once were.
Be it at school or at home, these little scraps of paper are priceless treasures that hold so many memories. Take the time to sit and create with your child, to listen to their stories. Even now, they reach out to share their life with me, to allow me to be a part of their world. It is easy to only half-way listen as the demands of chores, the phone, and other things become a distraction, but when you catch yourself in such a state – stop, put down the phone, the dishrag and turn off the tv and truly listen. You may find that the little person you miss so much still exists, yearning for their parent’s attention just as when they were small.
I think this Thanksgiving, as my oldest returns home from college, and while my other two still remain with me, that I will have us all sit down with crayons, paper, and scissors, and we will create turkey hands once more. I will hang them up with pride and eventually secure them away in my keepsake box to be thought upon another day because no matter how big those turkeys become, they will always represent my little ones.