Taylor-Made: Turkey of the Year

Taylor Leddin's Turkey of the Year award from 2002. 

The Leddin family has an awesomely hilarious Thanksgiving tradition that’s been in existence since 1982. My grandma, the late, great Pat Leddin, came up with an idea to do something called “Turkey of the Year,” where members of the family are nominated for the funny things they did during the course of the year, and the person who did the funniest thing would receive a turkey-shaped trophy.

It’s not necessarily something you want to receive, but it’s good fun and always taken in stride. It’s the highlight of each Thanksgiving, and now Pat’s daughter, Mary (who just had a birthday this week — happy birthday, Mar Mar!), spearheads the tradition in her mom’s honor.

Some classic winners during the years include: family members getting caught regifting a present; family members missing a flight because they accidentally left their passport in their suit jacket and sent it to the dry cleaners and, when it came back, was not TSA-approved; and a family member accidentally throwing another family member off of a jet ski resulting in them having to wear a sling for the rest of the summer.

And that’s just a taste of about 40 years of memories.

I remember being little and getting upset every year when I didn’t win a trophy. Of course, I didn’t comprehend it wasn’t necessarily a positive thing.

Still, my Grandma — being the sweetheart she was — wanted to include me, and got me a trophy the next year that said “Taylor Leddin: Silliest Kid Around.” You bet your bottom dollar that still sits in my home office.

Since the beginning, we’ve kept track of the winners with an overall trophy and write up the nominees like a skit for an awards show. It’s an incredibly fun way to reminisce over all of the funny things that happened during the course of the year, and it’s only gotten more fun as our family continues to grow.

It’s been an interesting way to initiate new members into the family (my brother-in-law, Don, has received the trophy a number of times since marrying my sister). While in-laws initially might have thought we were goofy (and maybe a little mean to each other), they’ve learned it’s all in good fun and have stuck around.

Last year (the first time Turkey was held over video call), my brother, Danny, won the trophy for four different nominations — most of which will make no sense unless you know him. But, just know they were warranted and hilarious.

One of his nominations included my dad and stepmom when the three of them walked into the wrong house for Christmas Eve. Danny instantly kicked off his shoes and poured himself a glass of milk. Luckily, the homeowners didn’t call the cops.

Aunt Mary and I will go through the nominations and come up with a script. Then on Thanksgiving, my sister, Nikki, and my cousin, Meg, will take turns reading each nominee — something they’ve been doing for more than 20 years.

Meg might have to be a call-in this year, as she now lives in Kentucky and just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Welcome to the world, Chase.

Time will tell who this year’s winner will be. Aside from my pity trophy, I safely can say I’ve never won. (The trick to this is you simply do outlandish things all year long and, after a while, no one finds it unusual.)

I hope your turkey is served with a side of laughter. Happy Thanksgiving!

Taylor Leddin is the Life editor at the Daily Journal and is the editor of Lifestyles of Kankakee County. Her column, “A Taylor-Made Life,” publishes every Saturday in the Life section. She can be contacted by phone 815-937-3369, email tleddin@daily-journal.com or via Twitter @leddinlife.