Carl and Pete prepared themselves for Thanksgiving. They knew what to expect, how it would happen, even who would do it. Clifford had explained everything to them and answered most of their questions as thoroughly as he could. Of all things, Clifford was honest. It was late in the day, the last day, and they were the only two left. They huddled in the back of the pen and gave thanks—for a good life, for good friends, and for the opportunity to provide celebration at the table of some loving family.
Clifford reached in and took Pete. Pete gave the obligatory squawk. He flapped his wings hard in a useless, though expected expression of struggle. But Pete wasn’t really struggling. It was all for show. He had settled it days before and with strong resolve he was going willingly.
Carl was now alone. Something hot suddenly filled his throat making it hard to swallow. He was next. He wanted to cry but fought hard against the urge. The trembling within his heart spread quickly until he shook uncontrollably. He kept telling himself this was okay and would be over soon. But Clifford never returned. The minutes that were clicking off much too quickly suddenly slowed to a stop. Darkness came.
What does this mean? Why was he still here? Clifford came back in. He looked at Carl and shrugged, the quota had been met. Carl knew this had not been his day. He was alone. Everyone else who had been there the night before was gone. Only he was left. Why him? He’d never know. What could he do? Obviously nothing. He didn’t know what to think. Should he be happy or sad? Regretful or glad?
He chose thankful. It covered everything. Thankful didn’t require understanding or explanation. It just required a heart willing to be grateful for all things.