Back in 2019, I answered a call for submissions from Spider Magazine. The editor was looking for a Thanksgiving story suitable for early readers that wasn’t the run-of-the-mill Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving saga.
So, I sent in a manuscript I was sure no one else would duplicate. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving passed, and I never heard anything back. After that disappointing rejection, I forgot all about the article.
A couple of years later, I received an email from Stacey, the editor of Spider, complimenting me on my wonderful children’s story and asking if it was still available.
I had no idea what she was talking about.
Stacey apologized for the delay in contacting me. It took a while for her team to fact-check my article. It seemed no one on her staff had ever heard of Sarah Josepha Hale except as the author of the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
After reading the email several times, I vaguely recalled writing the article but had to dig through my ‘rejected articles’ file before finally finding it. Then, after reading the story, it dawned on me why I liked the piece so much.
Sarah Hale was a fearless activist/author/magazine editor. She spent 36 years writing governors, senators, presidents, and anyone else she could pester on why Thanksgiving should be a national holiday. Finally, in 1863 Abraham Lincoln passed a proclamation declaring the last Thursday in November as a “Day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” Mission accomplished!
That’s how “Mary Had a Little Turkey” came into being. Spider bought the piece and came up with the catchy title.
I wanted to tell you all about this in November but had to wait 60 long days after publication before announcing it. So now, here it is:
“Mary Had a Little Turkey” by Greta Burroughs, published in the November/December issue of Spider Magazine.