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Thanksgiving is about eating and giving thanks for what you're eating. To say otherwise would be to bury the lead.

I acknowledge that this great American holiday also is about, secondarily, thankfulness for non-caloric blessings, such as that we have survived nearly a year the tragic absurdity of this hideous creature as president.

Talk among yourselves about him today at the dinner table. It'll be good for family serenity.

Some say Thanksgiving also is about parades on television. But those people are pitiable. The parades may be magnificent when beheld in person but, on television from a fixed camera location, seeing one is seeing all. The banality of the announcing and the commentary--it's like sitting through a Bret Bielema news conference and hearing ad nauseam about how well the team practiced during the week and that we're oh-so-close.

Happy Thanksgiving to Bret, by the way. This probably will be his last Thanksgiving in Arkansas, unless a local high school wants to take a chance on him.

Some say Thanksgiving is about football, but it's been maybe three decades since I stayed awake for an after-lunch football game on television.

Saturday--the Iron Bowl ... now that is about football. It used to be that the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Arkansas-LSU game, was about football. But that was before Bret, who so reduced the Razorbacks that CBS declared that we didn't deserve LSU as a rival and would henceforth get Missouri as our assigned rival instead.

Now even Missouri is favored by 13 points over us at our stadium on our Senior Day. Unless the Hogs get rid of Bret soon, they'll end up the underdog to UCA on the Friday after Thanksgiving on a local-access cable channel.

Back to the unburied lead--eating, which, for me, over recent decades, has been about four dishes. Just four.

Not green salad. Not fruit salad. Not sweet potatoes with marshmallows melted on top for those needing to bridge their indecision between entrée and dessert. Not cranberry sauce, which is consumed only one day a year for a reason.

And certainly not giblet gravy. There is one gravy that matters. Well, two. One is cream. The other brown. And both are made in a steaming skillet after you've fried chicken or pork chops.

Real Thanksgiving is eschewing all of that to save room for the four essences of the day.

One is smoked turkey breast, juicy and salty and pinkish from a smokehouse I won't mention except to say it operates a popular eatery for the upper crust in the Heights section of Little Rock. An oven-roasted turkey with legs and wings and dark meat and a skeleton and assorted parts crammed into a cavity--that's a tradition elevating obligation over taste, risking dryness in the dominant white-meat section and requiring a better carving knife and carving hand than mine. If I never again try to extract a turkey drumstick by hitting that magic ligament spot, it will be too soon.

The second is cornbread dressing made in a deep baking dish that produces a crisp surface and a moist, steaming center, with more eggs for fluffiness than you think wise and one more sprinkling of sage, and maybe one more after that, after you've already made one more sprinkling of sage than you thought wise. Then hit it again, for luck.

The third is once-a-year mashed potatoes. I say once-a-year because ingesting them a second time over 12 months probably would kill you. Even once is a calculated risk.

Once-a-year mashed potatoes are regular mashed potatoes with milk and butter, but also with a dollop of Duke's mayonnaise, a dollop of ranch dressing, a tablespoon or two of minced garlic and handful of shredded parmesan cheese.

If you put giblet gravy on that masterpiece, you should be sentenced to three Bret Bielema news conferences.

And the fourth ... well, here I must invoke a mother-in-law from a past life, a dear woman of reserved superiority.

I saw her once assemble a perfect pie crust, rich pumpkin pie filling and, to my curiosity, even near-alarm, a firm-tipped meringue. I thought she'd lost it--that she'd made a meringue for a cream pie, forgetting that she was baking a pumpkin pie.

Oh, no. She folded the meringue into the pie filling and produced a thick, fluffy, light-brown delicacy that she declared a "pumpkin chiffon pie." Upon swallowing his first forkful, my late dad declared he'd never again see any point to eating pumpkin pie not all chiffoned-up like that.

Finally, for the right perspective on the day: There's one other thing--a life's passage--into which our family's modern Thanksgiving celebration has evolved.

Our last two Thanksgiving lunches have been enjoyed as guests at the nursing home at a table with Mom. She may think we're her siblings, which we're happy to be, as long as she's happy and we're with her.


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 11/23/2017

Print Headline: All about the taste

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  • drs01
    November 23, 2017 at 7:50 a.m.

    JB - I read your opening comments and stopped reading. You continue to attack the POTUS to the point of being annoying and ridiculous.
    So to you I offer this Thanksgiving wish.....choke on a turkey leg and drown in a bowl of mash potatoes.

  • mozarky2
    November 23, 2017 at 7:59 a.m.

    I am very thankful for "that tragic absurdity of this hideous creature as president". If Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit had become president, all of those perverted democrats (and one Republican) and liberals and "journalists" would never have been exposed. Do you think any victims would have come forward with Hillary in power? Has anyone in history ever provided more cover for perverts than Hillary? Has anyone ever intimidated more victims than Hillary?
    I'm thankful, too, that for the next seven years, President Trump will be appointing even more Supreme Court justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia. Neil Gorsuch is just the beginning, "progs"!
    I'm a little less thankful that the Gropeocrats have given Roy Moore a lifeline in the forms of a coke-addled Senator from Minnesota and Senator Hung Jury. I wish Moore would go away, but it's thanks to the dems he's going to be the next Senator from Alabama.

  • BoudinMan
    November 23, 2017 at 8:03 a.m.

    Very touching info re: your Mama. Enjoy your time with her. Happy Thanksgiving, John.

  • arkateacher54
    November 23, 2017 at 8:08 a.m.

    I am thankful that I don't have to read Bummit's column. I am thankful that he he is such a transparent buffoon that no reasonable people pay any attention to him. I am not thankful that I have to pay to get his ridiculous drabble on my computer.

  • mozarky2
    November 23, 2017 at 8:23 a.m.

    I'm thankful Marxine Waters is a democrat:
    “You know, there is a member of Congress who has been supportive of women for many, many, many years,” Maxine Waters said in a keynote address to the Women's Convention Sojourner Truth Luncheon in Detroit.
    “He is quiet, he is confident, he is powerful, but he has impeccable integrity on all of our issues. Give John Conyers a big round of applause.”

  • PopMom
    November 23, 2017 at 8:36 a.m.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all! Help those family members who are preparing the food today. My husband already is on the outs. He first asked me if I could help him clean out his home office tonight after the guests have left. I glared at him and told him that I might be tired tonight after a day of cooking and hostessing. Then, I noticed a fingernail clipper and clippings on our coffee table. I asked him if he had done this. (I knew the answer; my teenagers are asleep and will be for several hours.) He said that he figured that was o.k. since I would have to be cleaning the house any way. There is a reason why I don't think that it would be safe to keep a gun in our house. Advice to all men on this day: be thankful to those who are preparing the food and tread carefully. The holidays are always fraught with danger from domestic violence, and sometimes the men are on the receiving end. Time to put the turkey in....

  • mozarky2
    November 23, 2017 at 8:44 a.m.

    I'm thankful for leftist douchebag CNN reporter Dylan Byers. Here's a recent Tweet from him:
    “Beyond the pain/ humiliation women have endured (which is of course the paramount issue), it’s worth taking stock of the incredible drain of talent from media/ entertainment taking place right now. Never has so much talent left the industry all at once,”

  • mozarky2
    November 23, 2017 at 8:47 a.m.

    I couldn't agree more, PM. I think guns should be kept out of the hands of "progs", too!

  • WGT
    November 23, 2017 at 9:02 a.m.

    Happy Thanksgiving John. Both my folks have passed on and I have been in the very chair you sit on today. Give her a huge hug with every last ounce of love.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all! Even those who have no idea they are on the wrong side of humanity!

  • BoudinMan
    November 23, 2017 at 9:51 a.m.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, PM, and everyone else out there. Hope you all have a very nice day.