- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2015


Well, the Lord and the ancestors obviously willing, the creek didn’t rise and overwhelm, so it’s Thanksgiving again. Time for the four Fs: faith, family, food and football.

So let’s begin in order of priority, which means thanks and gratitude are first up.

Lots of us will be giving thanks for global peace. Sure, with all the violence, terrorist attacks, suicides and assorted madness, the world might not seem very peaceful.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, by example, didn’t seem like she wants to add “peace officer” to her CV during a “60 Minutes” interview when advising people who find themselves near an active shooter.

“Your options are run, hide or fight,” Chief Lanier said. “I always say if you can get out, getting out is your best option. If you’re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out — it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there.”

Give thanks that things aren’t worse, because they could be. For one, D.C. officials only want the bad guys to access guns. For another, if the guy who took down the gunman is standing with a weapon in his hand when the cops arrive, who’s the threat in the eyes of the armed police?

Be thankful for peace.

Give thanks for the bounty, the hands that prepared it and the fact that you are sharing it with family.

Remember, there are lots of folks who won’t be sharing this Thanksgiving with their spouses, parents and children. Members of our armed forces are elsewhere fighting on our behalf and on the behalf of others. Also, Al Gore can’t run the Internet by himself, so his helpers are handling details big and small for our online shopping as the retail world tries to ensure that Black Friday wipes out any red ink.

Meanwhile, as we become poll-dependent to find out who’s ahead in the run for president, I decided to conduct a poll of my own: sweet potato pie or pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving?

I admit, the “Patti pie” sparked my curiosity. You’ve heard or read about it, yes?

Well, in case you missed it, here’s the backstory: A young Wal-Mart manager named Kinna Thomas, who became a senior buyer for cakes and pies, began testing her family’s sweet potato pie recipe on her coworkers “to raise the retailer’s bakery game a few notches,” according to Forbes.com. She also Googled “pie” and “Patti” — as in LaBelle, as in gospel singer, cookbook author and Baptist — and voila! Wal-Mart and Patti have a deal, with Patti’s touches of cinnamon a thicker crust and a different texture.

Well, the pie was a hit, partly thanks to James Wright Chanel, who sang the sensations of Patti and her pie on YouTube, garnering more than 2 million hits. Patti pies began vacating Wal-Mart’s shelves easier than most of us would let the words “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir” roll off our tongues.

I would rather speak those somewhat naughty words than have pumpkin pie on my tongue. I’m serious.

I don’t get the pumpkin pie thing anyway, other than squash is supposedly native to North America, while sweet potatoes and yams are South American and African. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture insists that yams, even if bought in America, be labeled sweet potatoes. We call sweet potato pies “sweet potato pies” and candied yams “candied yams” because yams are not sweet. We’ve always doctored them up with honey, molasses, butter and spices similar to those that are used in sweet potato pies.

And, as I said, I conducted a poll. Most of my male co-workers who were polled preferred pumpkin, a couple said both, and one said he’d never heard of sweet potato pie. “What a terrible waste of sweet potatoes,” he said.

Of those two dozen or so I asked at a regional Giant food store, all but one said pumpkin.

Our family — all five of the current living generations — were weaned on sweet potato pie. Some have put their own twists on it, like pecans and whipped cream, while I am a purist, having been intimidated for many, many years by learning to make the perfect crust. Fortunately, I began studying my mom, my aunts and my godmother, wonderful cooks and bakers who, ahem, do not use a lot measuring cups and spoons.

But pumpkin pie? Having never been a fan of any squash, I cannot even imagine what pumpkin pie tastes like, and if I ate it as a child or unwittingly, I immediately and politely relieved my taste buds of the misery.

I do, though, appreciate that the American Indians, Pilgrims and colonists ate pumpkin pie when they broke bread together.

As for the football, suffice it say that while my Washington Redskins still can’t get things together, the Cowboys’ heritage stems from boosting ticket sales. Plus, football is a man’s game, a game that calls for the guys on the gridiron to be tougher than nails, not home roasting a turkey after its cavity is dressed with oyster stuffing.

Thank goodness the National Football League now gives homage with three games.

All in all, tradition + heritage = Thanksgiving.

Gobble, gobble.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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