Once upon a time, turkeys were free to live their lives in peace around the holidays. In days of yore, most Christmas tables were centred on a roasted goose. The reason was practical: cows gave milk and chickens gave eggs, making them far too valuable to eat.

Geese, however, were slackers on the production line. Turns out, laying eggs only seasonally gives you a one-way ticket to the roasting pan.

Speaking of roast goose, the origin of the phrase “one’s goose is cooked” may originate with the fable about the golden goose, whose eggs were far more valuable than the potential progeny of the Christmas goose. The tale has numerous variations, but here’s the gist: a farmer discovered his goose laid golden eggs. You might remember from before, that geese only lay eggs seasonally. But the farmer had purchased a new combine that year, Monsanto was really causing him grief and he needed cash fast. Not able to wait until spring, the farmer killed the goose in hopes of finding a large stash of gold, or perhaps a gold-making gall bladder he could tap when needed. Alas, it was not to be: the goose’s entrails were standard issue and all the bird was good for now was dinner. The farmer’s goose was cooked.

On the plus side, in the act of fattening up the goose (in hopes of more gold, obviously) the farmer discovered foie gras.

On the plus side, in the act of fattening up the goose (in hopes of more gold, obviously) the farmer discovered foie gras, which at nearly $50 per kilogram was almost as good as gold – as long as shipping routes to American markets were open. But at the time, a black-plague-related disruption in international logistics meant the farmer was stuck with his stash. His family gorged on goose liver and became rotund, demanding and rather spoiled around the holidays. This led to the adoption of the turkey as the preferred festive fowl. Bigger than a goose, the turkey could feed the fois-gras-fattened family, tasted great with cranberry sauce and didn’t start laying eggs until the age of seven months… which was precisely the time they reached peak deliciousness… so why bother?

And so, in a poetic case of what goes around comes around, the goose was freed from the Christmas kitchen table for the same reason it was put there in the first place: which we’ve by now forgotten, but had something to do with eggs. The moral of the story: lay eggs as often as you can. Or don’t kill a golden goose. Or maybe, buy foie gras stocks.

Merry Christmas!