It’s that time of year. The music has already started. In some stores, the music and the holiday decorating began in August as children started back to school. If it were not for the temperature outside, I would think I fell asleep and woke up several months later. Between the many holidays of the fall through the new year, I believe – hands down – Christmas is probably most people’s favorite. And with it come the songs and the Christmas carols. How many times throughout the season do you hear Andy Williams and many other artists singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”? Even as I write this, I can’t shake the jingle from my head (and it’s a sunny day with men outside my office windows, cutting very green grass).
“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” can be far from the truth for people that you and I know. Many struggle throughout the season because, for them, it’s not a happy and joyful time … but rather a time of stress, family dysfunction, separation, depression, and loss. You might ask, “What can I do?” Be a friend, understand where the other person is coming from, pray for their concern, lighten their load, invite them to share in one of your holiday traditions, and where they will allow you, help them to know the Savior in the season.
I want to share with you about a man, “The Turkey Man,” who has helped the children and families of Texas Baptist Children’s Home (TBCH) and Miracle Farm have some “wonderful” in their Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations for a quarter-century. Charles Morris is that “Turkey Man.” Since TBCH began in 1950, the Robertson County Turkey Fund and, more specifically, the people of Robertson County, their churches, and Charlie Morris’s predecessors have provided turkeys for the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for our children and cottage families. When Miracle Farm became a part of the Children At Heart family of ministries, the Turkey Fund added them to the seasonal tradition of making Thanksgiving and Christmas meals special for the children here. We have been blessed over and over again to have Charles and Elizabeth Morris be the conduit for the love of the people of Robertson County as they have helped make holiday meals unforgettable.
In the 1930s, this tradition began when a brother and sister from Calvert, Texas – William and Sudie Anderson – wanted to do something special to thank those who had helped them at a children’s home in North Texas where they lived during their earlier, formative years. William had been a successful contractor until the Depression struck. With the decline of his business, he moved back to Calvert where he began raising chickens, turkeys, and other animals. William was so grateful for the help he had received as a child that he took a truckload of his turkeys to the children’s home for Thanksgiving as an expression of his appreciation. And there began the long-standing tradition that carries on, even until today, and is a blessing to many children’s homes in Texas. When William Anderson died, the pastor of Franklin Baptist Church continued the tradition and involved many more members of the community and county, and it has passed from turkey coordinator to turkey coordinator until 1994 when Charles Morris became “The Turkey Man” of the hour.
In the early years, live turkeys raised in Robertson County were given to the children’s homes. As the years progressed, dressed turkeys were sent to the homes and, as time moved on, they began to contract with Brookshire Brothers since they would guarantee a good price for frozen turkeys, even during the holiday season. Today, funds are given to Children At Heart designated specifically for the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey dinners for our children at TBCH and Miracle Farm.
Earlier this fall, we surprised and celebrated Charlie Morris at a Robertson Baptist Association meeting to thank him for the years he has invested in making the lives of our children a bit more wonderful during the many holiday seasons as “The Turkey Man.” We presented Charlie with a commemorative print of Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want (also known as The Thanksgiving Picture or I’ll Be Home for Christmas). As the season is upon us again, Charlie is passing the baton on to the seventh “Turkey Man,” and the tradition continues as the people of Robertson County once again bless children during a time in life that is difficult, with the hopes of providing some of the wonder of the season.
Our thanks to Charles and Elizabeth Morris, the donors from Robertson County, and to each of you as you help us provide for the needs of children and families throughout Gracewood, Miracle Farm, STARRY, and Texas Baptist Children’s Home! The needs of abused and neglected children, single mothers, and families in crisis are not seasonal. We are grateful that you partner with us throughout the seasons of the year.