(Thanksgiving) Stars in Fallujah¹

Posted on November 25, 2004 by Jenna

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1 every Thanksgiving, even in the hardest years, the President looks on the Thanksgiving turkey with eyes that cannot remain stern. Every Thanksgiving, the President is hungry, but offers one turkey a miracle. A pardon, a gift of life unlooked for, an unimaginable grace.

To a single turkey; and thereby, to all the world.

The world is torn by war.

Is it a missile? Is it a grenade? Najma does not know. The ceiling was high. Now it has fallen. It is atop her, in great thick chunks, and she cannot breathe.

That is when the Thanksgiving Turkey arrives.

“Hello,” says a voice. It is a small and clucking voice. “Hello. Are you Najma?”

She speaks a little English. She tries to clear her throat. “Hello,” she says.

“I am Stars,” says the voice. “I am the magical Thanksgiving Turkey. I was pardoned by the President. I am here to save you.”

Najma breathes. It is hard. She thinks. It is harder.

“I do not know any magical turkey,” she says. “Please help.”

“I can only help you find your way,” says Stars. “Crawl towards me. Crawl towards my voice.”

Stars gobbles. It is a gentle gobbling, like the song of the heavens.

“I am hurt,” says Najma. But Stars the Thanksgiving Turkey helps those who help themselves. So she begins to crawl. She drags herself towards the sound. Every muscle hurts. But as she scrapes herself along the ground, the wood and plaster on top of her begins to shift. She finds herself able to breathe. She sees light ahead. She sees Stars.

“My mother,” she says. “My mother. My father. My family?”

Stars leans down at touches her nose with his beak. It is a Thanksgiving blessing.

“Some will live,” he says.

She touches his foot. He is her hope. He is her salvation. He is a turkey, and she has not eaten in two days.

“Thank you,” she says.

How many hundreds of people does Stars visit that day? How many thousands? How much hope can a single magic turkey bring?

Najma does not know.