Al Batt: Gravy covers a multitude of sins and blessings

Published 8:12 pm Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt


We embrace the day with gravy-stained hands.

And by setting the bathroom scale back 10 pounds.

We bow our heads and hope no one moves the butter while grace is said.

I get texts from someone at the other end of the Thanksgiving table asking me to pass the mashed potatoes. We eat too much and we watch football, just like we’ve done for three months. I’ll never forget the year when a relative stayed awake for an entire televised football game on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving comes and goes in a flicker. Time passes so quickly, I must be living in dog years.

I’m thankful for friends and family, especially the good cooks — good people who work from morning to night and then some to feed the huddled masses yearning to eat free. Cooking is easy when someone else does it. The cooks are thankful that their guests don’t live with them all the time. Thanksgiving is a resting place at the end of a yearlong winding road for most of us.

So much food, the table becomes a landing field. A labyrinth of complexities. Does stuffing make a turkey look fat? Thanksgiving candy, otherwise known as leftover Halloween candy, is devoured. There is a mad scramble to get chairs near the pie. We eat and we hope for the best. We’ll try to quit cold turkey later.

I think a battery charger connected to the drumsticks would allow the turkey to cook faster. I pull the starter rope on the electric carving knife. I worry it may be powerful enough to cut through the turkey, the table, and the floor, and then live in the basement, trying to carve the tails off blind mice during the night.

We tell stories — each in our own way. I hear things such as, “Back when we rode on the school bus together, we all thought there was something wrong with you, Al. You were so quiet. Now you have diarrhea of the mouth.”

We learn the ways of loved ones and appreciate their wisdom. We defer to the opinions and desires of elders — at least when in their presence.

I’m thankful for the usual things and for unusual things.

I’m thankful whenever the sun shines during our cloudiest month of November. A day without sunshine is like Juneau. That fine Alaskan city is covered by clouds 280 days a year. I’m thankful I’ve learned it’s a good idea to bring my own sunshine to Juneau and to wherever else I go.

That President James Garfield was ambidextrous. Even though historical evidence doesn’t support the popular legend that Garfield could write simultaneous sentences in Greek and Latin, I’m thankful for ambidextrous presidents.                                                 

That I can fix things. Not many things, but some. I once had a car with a headlight that didn’t always work. If I kicked the nearest fender, there was illumination. That’s Mr. Goodwrench stuff right there.

I’m thankful that I don’t have to sit on a stump and carve eating utensils out of the branches of cottonwood trees.

That when I rise from a warm bed in the darkness and discover later that I’m wearing one black sock and one navy blue sock, I’m thankful that Pippi Longstocking wore mismatched stockings. It’s good to have company.

I’m thankful I grew up with an outhouse because that meant when my goldfish Fluffy died, we didn’t have to hold a sad flush funeral.

That opening my refrigerator door requires I be ready to catch something.

I’m thankful that as a vertically enhanced individual, I’m not driving a 1996 Neon with one knee on its dash and my other knee on the passenger seat.

That I haven’t started drinking turkey juice enhanced with CBD oil.

I’m thankful that I’ve learned to stay close to the butter during both the blessing and the meal.

Nothing is certain but death and taxes. Thanksgiving is a gift and I’ve learned that every family meal is a special one.

Thanksgiving is more than just adding another hole to a belt. Tecumseh said, “When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”

Two people hook their pinkie fingers around the ends of a turkey’s wishbone, make a wish, and pull. Whoever ends up with the bigger piece has a wish come true.

If I get the bigger part of the wishbone, I’m wishing for more gravy.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.