21 Nov 2015
This time of the year, my thoughts drift 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 Greatest Cook.
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.
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.
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 usual 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 option.
“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. 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 grandmother.
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.
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 1:26-29 KJV.)
Like gravy, many things we overlook and consider insignificant God uses for His glory.