The Hand Turkey: A Rite of Passage


We all have had those moments—and I think they are different from person to person—where we finally “feel” like a mom. For some people, it’s the first time they bring their beautiful baby home. For some, it’s the oh-so-snuggly late-night breastfeeding sessions. And for others, it might be the first time they put their children’s names on their holiday card (I admit, that was a big one for me).

But I was very surprised by one moment that took my breath away; a moment where I really, finally felt like a mom. And that was the day I got my first hand turkey. Oh my gosh—I might tear up just thinking about it.

memphis moms blog hand turkey

We all know the infamous hand turkey, right? It’s almost Thanksgiving, so you’re about to see them everywhere if you have pre-school or elementary-age children or grandchildren. One day, probably way back in like medieval times, someone figured out that tracing a child’s hand looked a bit like a turkey once you put eyes, a beak, and colorful feathers onto it. And so, the hand turkey was born.

My oldest child’s first hand turkey wasn’t his first piece of art to bring home—although that was an awesome moment too—but it was definitely a special one. Maybe it’s just the nostalgia of it that gets to me, since it has been around for so long. I know I made my fair share of hand turkeys, and my mom even remembers making them when she was a little girl. I guess it’s a combination of things—it’s their tiny, precious hand, and their super-sweet little artwork, and all the symbolism surrounding Thanksgiving in general that makes it so great.

The hand turkey is about celebrating childhood. The hand turkey is about being grateful. The hand turkey is about family.

So, am I the only mom who is obsessed with all the scribbles and doodles that come home in my children’s bags from pre-school? I get so excited every time I pick them up and find some special creation for us to take home and add to our collection—well, except for that one time that I accidentally crumpled up my son’s artwork when I closed the stroller with it still in the storage compartment below—oops, we’ll just keep that our little secret. But, seriously, I can’t wait to start curating our little kiddie artwork exhibit as my kids get older. Break out the gallery frames! I’m gonna need a lot of them!

memphis moms blog kids art

Some of you might think I’m a little nuts for getting so excited about the hand turkey that I felt it warranted a blog post; but, frankly, I don’t care. To each her own. I know you all have had your own special “mommy” moments that might or might not have made that much sense. And that’s exactly what motherhood is—a collection of crazy, special, fleeting moments.

What was your hand turkey moment?


Previous articleThanksgiving Mood
Next article“You’re Adopted” :: Breaking the News to the Kids
Cara is a freelance journalist and strategic communications consultant living in Germantown. Born in Illinois, she moved to Memphis at a young age; and, having moved away a few times for college, graduate school, and other adventures, she likes to joke that she’s moved TO Memphis more times than anyone she knows. Mom to the cutest little boys, Everett (March 2017) and Gavin (October 2018), and wife to Rob, who works as a financial planner, Cara is adjusting to her new gig as a stay-at-home mom after almost 20 years as a magazine editor and corporate communications practitioner. When not “momming” or consulting, Cara spends her time volunteering with the Junior League of Memphis, where she served on the Board of Directors for several years. Admittedly, Cara has an unreal obsession with escape rooms, an unhealthy addiction to Frappuccinos, and an uncontrollable desire to correct every grammar and punctuation mistake she sees. Learn more about Cara at