| Innisfree Poetry
| Enskyment Journal
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Too Much Turkey And Not Enough Gravy
James L. Snyder
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This time of the
year, my thoughts rove back to memories of my maternal grandmother. The
Thanksgiving season brought all her special talents to the forefront. To me, my
grandmother reigned as queen of the kitchen and functioned as the World’s
Thanksgiving brought all my relatives to my grandmother’s
house. My grandfather lived there too, but with all the food on the table,
nobody noticed. He joined the rest of us in eager anticipation of grandmother’s
To be honest, my grandmother did not do everything. My
grandfather made a major contribution to the Thanksgiving preparation. In fact,
he had the most important part — he stayed out of grandmother’s kitchen. I have
always appreciated that quality of my grandfather.
As November made its debut, everyone in my family eagerly
awaited Thanksgiving Day. We talked of nothing else for weeks in advance.
Someone might think all this excitement about Grandmother’s Thanksgiving spread
a little extreme. That is simply because they never had any of her ‘‘vittles.’’
One bite, or even one good whiff, could convince anyone that my grandmother’s
cooking ranked number one.
Don’t think that every Thanksgiving went off perfectly.
No, siree. There were times when circumstances severely challenged Grandmother’s
patience, if not her sanity. But no matter what happened, she always came
through with fried goodies. No matter what the crisis, somehow my grandmother
had the perfect recipe.
One year, contrary to her usually good sense, my
grandmother allowed my grandfather to watch the turkey while she went down the
road for an important meeting at the church. As an active member of her church,
Grandmother felt an obligation to do her part. ‘‘If everybody did their part,’’
she explained to me once, ‘‘everything would get done.’’
Although not completely comfortable leaving the important
turkey under Grandfather’s watchful eye, Grandmother felt she had no other
‘‘Jim,’’ she said to my grandfather, ‘‘I want you to pay
attention to every word I say.’’
My grandfather was a great old man. I always enjoyed the
many romps I had with him. He seemed to know exactly what children liked to do.
Despite Grandmother’s warnings, he somehow managed to sneak in a little fun for
his grandchildren. For example, there was the time he let all the grandchildren
slide down grandmother’s banister.
But trusting my grandfather with something as important
as the Thanksgiving turkey was just asking too much.
‘‘Jim,’’ grandmother instructed, ‘‘all you have to do is
make sure the turkey doesn’t go dry.’’
Of course, my grandfather wanted to do everything
Grandmother instructed him to do. If anyone had good intentions, it was my
grandfather. Unfortunately, this was one of those times when good intentions did
not help the Thanksgiving turkey.
‘‘Just baste the turkey every 15 minutes with this turkey
baster and make sure it doesn’t go dry,’’ my grandfather’s life’s partner
explained. To make sure my grandfather understood the importance of her
instructions, Grandmother added one last note. ‘‘If this turkey goes dry, your
goose is cooked.’’
We all knew Grandmother was not joking. She never joked
about her cooking. Martha Stewart could learn a thing or two about culinary
etiquette from my grandmother.
To be brutally honest about the whole incident, it was
not my grandfather’s fault that the meeting at the church lasted as long as it
did. Everyone knows church committee meetings sometimes have a life of their own
and can go on for days.
During the first hour of his vigil, my grandfather did
everything my grandmother instructed him to do. However, it was cold outside and
the old fashioned wood stove in the room off the kitchen spread a warm blanket
throughout the house, creating a drowsy ambience. Anyone in the same situation
would have done the same thing my grandfather did.
He fell asleep.
Grandmother’s Thanksgiving turkey not only went dry, it
shriveled to a dark black lump.
The excited voice of my grandmother shrieking aroused my
grandfather from his slumber. ‘‘Oh, Jim, the turkey, the turkey!’’ Although
groggy, Grandfather knew his goose was cooked — and nobody cooked goose like my
How well I remember that Thanksgiving. Although a smaller
turkey than usual, my grandmother had more than enough gravy to go around. One
strange thing about that Thanksgiving that has lingered in my mind all these
years was that my grandfather did not eat any turkey.
When the turkey plate came his way, he quickly glanced at
my grandmother and said with a familiar laugh, ‘‘Oh, I couldn’t eat another
bite.’’ Then he passed the plate.
Then with a chuckle in his voice, he said something I did
not quite understand at the time.
‘‘Some folks make too much fuss over the turkey and not
enough on the gravy.’’
Turning to my grandmother, he continued. ‘‘Mary, this has
to be the best gravy you’ve ever made.’’ My grandmother smiled one of her
maternal smiles and everyone went back to the business of the day.
I learned that day that there is a danger in making too
much of the turkey, and not enough of the gravy in life.
The Bible puts it this way; ‘‘For ye see your calling,
brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many
noble, are called: ‘‘But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to
confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound
the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are
despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught
things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.’’ (1 Corinthians
Like gravy, many things we overlook
and consider insignificant God uses for His glory.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the
Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, Florida. His
e-mail address is
firstname.lastname@example.org. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.
Rev. Snyder’s new book, You Can Always Tell A
Pastor (But Not Very Much), is available. Rev. Snyder is host to the
weekly radio program, Sunday Joy, each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on WOCA, 1370