Friends and food mean a lot when you don’t have much.

We were poor college students, over 1,600 miles from home, when my wife and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving.

humble yourself before a turkey humbles you

Holidays make us miss home. But I’ll never forget how proud and excited we felt to host Dave Tricky, a fellow student, and his girlfriend for our first Thanksgiving. (Yes, that’s his real name. I soon learned the trick was on me.)

We were becoming real adults. My bride was 19. I was 20. It was 1976.

We moved our tiny kitchen table to the slightly larger living room and stationed it uncomfortably close to the front door to accommodate the crowd of four.

After the blessing, I ceremoniously stood as the “man” of the house, to proudly carve the bird. It was one of life’s great moments.

But the knife didn’t slice into tender breast meat. IT HIT BONE!

I poked the blade around. The whole damn turkey was bone.  I had purchased a bone turkey!

If not for the drumsticks and wings, it would have been Thanksgiving without turkey.

Dave and his girlfriend probably stopped at a fast food joint on their way home.

After our guests left, I carried the bone-bird to our tiny kitchen to scavenge the remains, defeated. (We could use even sparse leftovers.)

Thankfully, we didn’t just throw the bone-bird in the garbage.

In the processes of cleaning the carcass, I flipped the bird to find two succulent turkey breasts, staring up at me. I’d carved the bone-back of the turkey.

We cooked the bird upside down!

turkey bones

Lessons from a bone turkey:

  • Humble yourself before a turkey humbles you.
  • You don’t always know what you have.
  • Sometimes a different approach changes everything.
  • One day, if you keep learning, you’ll laugh at how ignorant you used to be.

What have you learned from a “funny” holiday experience?

*This post is a revision of an article I posted on Nov. 22, 2012. Believe it or not, it’s a true story.

you are an inspiration




  1. Bill Knott on said:

    Thankful for your daily inspiration. Keep learning. I am pretty sure I can never get too humble!!

    Bill Knott


    • Thanks Bill. Yes, keep learning.

  2. Hi Dan, I once had a bone leg of lamb for Easter. We went to a new butcher (do they even have those anymore?) and took home a leg, only to find there wasn’t enough meat on it for 3 people, and we had 8. Good thing we made plenty of sides.

    Happy thanksgiving!

    • Thanks Steve. Great story. Sounds like preparation helped. 🙂

  3. I appreciate you sharing your many interesting and informative stories, then providing a leadership lesson from the experience. And, you are willing to laugh at yourself, a sign of a leadership trait I value most in others.

    I share your blog with many fellow leaders and colleagues. Thanks for the great work – please keep posting!

    • Thanks Alan. I appreciate your encouraging words. Thank you for sharing. Best wishes

  4. alfgoodall3 on said:

    “One day, if you keep learning, you’ll laugh at how ignorant you used to be.”

    There was a time when I cringed at my past mistakes and ignorance. Then I met my wife. And her reaction to her past mistakes and ignorance was to laugh. And that surprised me. How could one laugh at their mistakes? But I quickly learned she had what I didn’t have. A much stronger sense of grace, humility and self-esteem.

    I’ve since learned to laugh at my past mistakes and ignorance. Still learning to do it more in the moment.

    • Thank Alf. Great to see you here. I hope you are well.

      Thanks to your wife for being such a great example. Respect to you for being a learner. Best wishes

  5. June Hetzel on said:

    Now that’s funny! 😁 A great reminder that we will always be beginners in some of life’s endeavors. Humility is key for leadership and life in general. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Thanks June. Everything good in leadership begins with humility. 🙂

  6. garrytulane on said:

    Great story. There is this meme that has been going across social media for a few years now and I just saw it again a couple days ago. It fits perfect with the message you are passing along here: sometimes you have just got to look at things from a different perspective. Who knows what amazing things lie beyond that I we don’t see at first? The image is of a rock that looks so awkward as it has trees and grass grown out of it, and it is sitting on a hill as though it were badly photoshopped on there. But, all you have to do is flip the picture around and you can see that it’s actually a rock protruding out of water, and the trees growing out of the top are just reflections in the water. The image link is here: https://i.redd.it/6wbt4vvazx121.jpg

  7. Tulane Tim on said:

    I love to smoke meats. One day I tried my hand at smoking a beef brisket. It had been on the smoker for what I felt was the adequate amount of time, brought it in and let it rest. Well once I started to slice it, I realized it wasn’t as tender as it should be. My wife and I tried a piece and it was pretty tough. Needless to say, I didn’t follow the process and we didn’t have good brisket that evening. I learned early on that keeping to process can lead to expected outcomes. deviating from the process can leave you eating leather for dinner. Learning from that mistake and looking back makes me smile. I was pretty ignorant and sort of too confident about my bbq.

    • Thanks Tim. Smoked Brisket is amazing. Like you, I’ve tried my hand at it. My problem is it takes all day. I don’t have the patience.

      I did it right, but learned I don’t value the result enough to pay the price. 🙂

      There are a couple places in town that make great smoked brisket!!!

Leave a Reply