Being thankful for the Thanksgiving holiday

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I was getting gas.

It wasn’t for me. It was for my car. I was pumping my own gas, of course. It’s a rare gas station that doesn’t require self-service. I’ve pumped a gazillion gallons of gas, yet I have never once been named the employee of the month.

I’m required to answer a series of yes or no questions at the pump in order to pay for gas. A TV screen on the pump blared at me. They should have asked me if I wanted to watch TV while pumping gas. I didn’t. Gas was $1.97.9. Why the .9 cents? There is much folklore about this, stories of retail price wars and gas taxes. The initial reason might have been lost to time. Studies have found that when prices end in 9, consumers spend more. We’re more likely to purchase an item priced at $9.99 than the same item priced at $10.00. We tend to ignore the fraction of a cent on the price of gas. It’s hard to believe that it’s a sales gimmick, but that’s apparently what it is.

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The fellow at the next pump complained about his new artificial knee. I told him that when I get a new knee, I’m getting a real one. My original factory knees might ache and creak, but I’m thankful that I still have them.

Timing is everything. Thanksgiving comes just as we’ve polished off the last of the Halloween candy. Pants are let out in preparation of the eating season otherwise known as button-popping time that begins with Thanksgiving.

I set the bathroom scale back 10 pounds.

This year, we bought three turkeys. Two for Thanksgiving and one for leftovers. We need leftovers. It’s difficult to quit cold turkey. Thanksgiving reminds me that cooking is easy when you’re watching someone else do it.

Does opening your refrigerator door require that you be prepared to catch something? That’s something to be thankful for. You have plenty. If you are able to catch things before they hit the floor, be thankful that your reflexes are that sharp.

If there is so much food that the table becomes a landing field, be thankful for that. If you need to say a long grace because the food is very hot, be thankful. Be thankful that grace isn’t sent as a text and that we don’t text one another to pass the mashed potatoes.

I’m thankful that the one time I went deer hunting, I didn’t wear the brown stocking cap with a fuzzy, white ball on the top that other hunters had given me.

I’m thankful for the mad scramble to get a chair near the dessert table. We eat too much and we watch football. I’ll never forget the year when someone stayed awake for an entire televised football game. The Detroit Lions play every Thanksgiving. A cousin used to go to church each Thanksgiving, but gave it up to watch Detroit on the gridiron. The Lions defeated the Christians again.

Creative geniuses are at work in kitchens. Like the chap who thought that connecting a battery charger to the drumsticks would cook a turkey quickly.

My neighbor pulled the rope to start the electric carving knife he’d bought at a yard sale. It was powerful. It not only cut through the turkey, it cut through the table and the floor. It still lives somewhere in his basement. It carves mice in the middle of the night.

W.T. Purkiser said, “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”

One year, at the onset of our married life, we had family and friends over for Thanksgiving. We’d spent our last dime buying a huge turkey. One turkey. And I mean our last dime. We had itches, but no scratch. If I’d had any money left, I’d have taken the turkey to a taxidermist to have it stuffed even though I thought that stuffing made a turkey look fat.

Everything was going well until my bride carried in the roasted turkey on a fine platter. The crowd was attentive in anticipation. It was a heavy bird. My wife’s big smile disappeared as the platter tipped and the turkey slid off onto the floor. It bounced.

There was an uncomfortable silence. My wife was near tears, fearing that she’d ruined Thanksgiving.

I said, “Let’s take that one back to the kitchen and serve the other turkey.”

I wished there had been another turkey.

I’m thankful that only my wife and I knew there wasn’t.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.