Sam Venable 

Department of Irony

C-SauceLike any couple closing in on a half century of matrimony, my wife and I have marked differences.

Mary Ann suffers from “throwawayitis.” I am plagued by “packratium.”

She enjoys watching high-quality British drama on Netflix and PBS. I follow college and pro football on high-def cable.

She is an organizer of everything, from clothes to garden tools. I adhere to the “make a new pile” method.

When a letter needs to be written, she sits down at the computer. I reach for a note pad, envelope and postage stamp.

She likes to hike in the woods. So do I—but prefer to be carrying a shotgun, and accompanied by a bird dog, at the same time.

If we both come home tired and tuckered at the end of the day, she would rather whip something up in the kitchen. I can whip up a dozen good reasons why we should dine at a restaurant.

And so it goes.

But there is one area of agreement on the fourth Thursday in November: Mary Ann and I dearly love jellied cranberry sauce.

Yes, that gelatinous, dark-red, cylindrical blob of tart sweetness that disgorges—ker-plop!—from the can intact, complete with “Ocean Spray rings,” and then is sliced with anything from a dull butter knife to a fillet blade sharp enough to split atoms.

Frankly, I defy you to check our pantry any day of the year and not find at least one can of jellied C-sauce. We’re just as liable to eat it with grilled hamburgers in August as roasted turkey on Thanksgiving.

To reiterate: jellied C-sauce, not that nasty whole-berry stuff.

There is only one exception to this rule. We have a dear West Tennessee friend, Roberta Richardson, who cooks a whole-cranberry wine sauce that is perfectly delicious when ladled onto smoked duck, goose, pork or venison. No doubt the wine forgives any whole-cranberry sin.

(Yes, I have Roberta’s recipe. No, you may not have it. I took a blood oath of silence when, after years of begging, she finally passed it along to me.)

As a faithful listener of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” I always tune in for Susan Stamberg’s annual Thanksgiving tribute to “Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish.” Wouldn’t miss it for the world, even though I stay nauseated as she describes a cranberry dish that (1) includes horseradish, (2) must be frozen before serving and (3) turns out Pepto-Bismol pink. If you must have the recipe, go online and create to your heart’s and belly’s content.

But here in a couple of weeks, Mary Ann and I shall reach for a can opener (by the way, it helps to pierce the bottom of the can with an old-time church key for easy removal) and enjoy our ker-plopped jellied cranberry sauce, thank you just the same.

If this is what successfully binds our marriage, so be it.

Sam Venable is an author, comedic entertainer, and humor columnist for the Knoxville (TN)
News Sentinel. His latest book is The Joke’s on YOU! (All I Did Was Clean Out My Files). He may be reached at .