Tom Collins: Be Thankful For the Gravy

At 10pm on the Sunday after the Thursday every turkey fears the most, I’m drinking a bottle of Reed’s Ginger Brew while a golden brown roasted turkey cools on top of the stove.

I wasn’t having turkey dinner at home this year but really wanted some holiday leftovers. Cold stuffing for breakfast, turkey sandwiches all week and my mother’s famous turkey hash for dinner all had me in a state of deep and unrelenting turkey mania. So in a last minute state of dazed, turkey loving denial, I ordered a bird.

On Thanksgiving I made it to not only one, but two very enjoyable meals. I ate an early meal at noon and another one late in the evening. Even though it was nearby, I skipped out on a third one in the middle of the day. My reasoning went something like this: Food good–Tom glutton—Three meals too much….Stay home.

BACK TO SUNDAY

But by the time I got around to seasoning, stuffing, and basting the dearly departed, the fervor for leftovers faded with the reality of cooking. Plus the whole idea of it had me really depressed.

It’s been a hard year. I lost my Dad and one of my best friends. My 2 year relationship ended for a second and final time. And although I survived the layoffs at work, some friends weren’t so lucky.

Seeing 14.9 pounds of organic poultry taking up counter space in my kitchen left me wondering, “Does the food bank accept uncooked Thanksgiving turkeys?”

So tom turkey was cooling but the blues were heating up.

Yet fate intervened. I unexpectedly veered off course from browsing those sites that require you to verify you are over 18 years of age and wandered onto some interesting and inspiring home pages. Yet fate intervened. I unexpectedly veered off course from browsing those sites that require you to verify you are over 18 years of age and wandered onto some interesting and inspiring home pages. And on one site a blogger shared what he was thankful for along with responses from others that reminded of my favorite poem and suddenly my sadness was gone.

The poem is by Raymond Carver. He wrote great short stories and poetry. He was a blistering, poisonous alcoholic who was killing himself with his addiction. Yet at the age of 40 he sobered up, soon fell in love and achieved great literary recognition and career success. And he died of brain cancer not more than ten years later.

GRAVY

No other word will do. For that’s what it was. Gravy.

Gravy, these past ten years.

Alive, sober working, loving and

being loved by a good woman. Eleven years

ago he was told he had six months to live

at the rate he was going. And he was going

nowhere but down. So he changed his ways

somehow. He quit drinking! And the rest?

After that it was all gravy, every minute

of it, up to and including, when he was told about

well, some things that were breaking down and

building up inside his head. “Don’t weep for me,”

he said to his friends. “I’m a lucky man.

I’ve had ten years longer than I or anyone

expected. Pure gravy. And don’t forget it.”

Raymond Carver

So in Thanksgivings past, when the bird was removed from the oven and the seemingly inevitable gravy crisis ensued I would always think of this poem. Maybe last year’s was better. Maybe it needed some more salt or it was lumpy or was cold by the time people sat down. No matter, its still gravy.

And on that lonely Sunday I remembered I had to make the gravy. So thinking of the gravy and then the poem, my sadness lightened.

And feeling this gratitude provided me with something that I can’t name and I can’t describe but I know is more powerful than all the miraculous vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements I religiously swallow every single day.

To your good health,

Tom Collins

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