PAT NEAL: Most wonderful time of the year

IT’S THE MOST wonderful time of the year.

There are so many things to be thankful for, like the fact that the Thanksgiving holiday is over.

That was a disaster.

You’d think by now people would know better than to discuss politics over a turkey dinner yours truly spent hours slaving over a hot smokehouse to prepare.

But then, dinner was ruined hours before it started. Things could have been worse, I’m sure.

At least the power didn’t go off. That was to come later.

Too bad the power didn’t go off before I had to cook.

There was a fire in the smokehouse that gave the smoked turkey a blackened look that I’m sure will catch on with gourmet cooks everywhere, someday.

There was a torrential downpour that turned the driveway into a sea of mud the unfortunate guests had to wade through to get to the door.

Of course, no Thanksgiving celebration would be complete without a pack of wet dogs to make things more festive.

A wet dog is about the friendliest thing on Earth.

A wet dog covered with mud is even friendlier.

After issuing hot towels to the poor traumatized beasts, I tried to shovel out the kitchen floor.

That’s when I noticed the smokehouse was on fire.

Then disaster struck. One of the guests started talking politics.

We’ve all been warned about mentioning politics in a social setting.

It’s a sure-fire way to get folks riled up one way or another.

Just about the time one know-it-all blowhard starts off, another one chimes in and they’re off to the races to see who can dig up the rudest comments imaginable to people who would otherwise be their friends.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are dealing with real-world problems in real time.

My mashed potatoes were so lumpy, I had to make lumpy gravy to go with them.

The theme of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner seemed to be “Burn, baby, burn!”

I burned the winter harvest vegetable medley and served it with a scorched Hollandaise sauce.

It was lumpy, too. Then, I burned my buns.

Then the guests started talking politics.

I have long made it an ironclad rule of the holidays and other social gatherings to never discuss this subject with others.

Do people really think that others will be convinced of a rational argument and completely alter their belief system after you insult them with abusive labels.

It would be far more constructive to discuss enlightening subjects we can all agree on when celebrating a holiday meal that some of us worked so hard to prepare.

That’s why I steer away from pontificating on controversial subjects during the holidays and just stick to the three basics: gun control, abortion and the death penalty.

Try as I might to be the peacemaker, there are some folks who are too ornery to agree with anything you say.

Now, I am not going to waste valuable print space labeling, stereotyping and profiling folks I happen to disagree with, unless it’s a fly fisherman.

You get one of these birds at your holiday dinner table and there’s going to be trouble.

We made it all the way through dinner to the burnt pumpkin pie before the fly fisherman spouted off about one of the most controversial subjects on the Olympic Peninsula, Row versus Wade.

Fly fishermen wade the rivers to fish. I row a boat.

As you read, this steelhead fishing season is just beginning.

Can’t we all just get along? It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

_________

Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal wildlife@gmail.com.

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