November 16, 2018

Gathering your family, probably at Grandma’s house, giving thanks for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of some really great food, family traditions, the Thanksgiving drill.

Speaking of Thanksgiving dinner, in the south there is turkey and dressing. Mama would never stuff the turkey. Like every other great southern cook, she made a pan of cornbread dressing. Thanksgiving dinner included cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. No southern Thanksgiving dinner would ever be complete without casseroles, green bean casserole, squash casserole, sweet potato casserole complete with pecans and mini-marshmallows. While we’re talking about a southern Thanksgiving dinner, don’t forget dessert. Let’s face it. The only desserts worthy of Thanksgiving are pecan pie and pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving is about being together

Thanksgiving is not only about all that great food. It is about being together. My family was very traditional. Every year we went to my Grandma Griffin’s house for Thanksgiving. Mama, Grandma and my aunts were in the kitchen getting everything ready for our Thanksgiving dinner. Meanwhile, the cousins all went to the backyard for a fast-moving game of touch football. Daddy and my uncles enjoyed watching football together.

The table in Grandma’s kitchen was a large dining room table that belonged to her father, the late Jacob Morris. When it was time to eat, we all took a seat at that table in Grandma’s kitchen. It got real quiet and we all seemed to be thinking the same thing, that we were grateful to be together. We bowed our head, closed our eyes and my late uncle John Sheffield said the blessing. Keenly aware that there would probably never be a time in my life when I had nowhere to go or family to be with I felt so loved and was particularly thankful for my family.

Practice Thanksgiving, a zany new tradition

Several years ago, my daughter had a delightful idea. The weekend before Thanksgiving, she and my son-in-law invited six of their friends to their house for a “practice Thanksgiving.” The purpose was two-fold. Their friends could try making a new recipe and bring it to the “practice Thanksgiving” for the friends to try. If said recipe turned out well, it could be taken to the family Thanksgiving. The other purpose was to practice how they might handle the dreaded obnoxious family member whom they’d encounter at Thanksgiving.

After lunch, everyone took a turn telling about their dreaded, annoying family member. The others would suggest strategies and hopefully by planning ahead they could handle the dreaded family member and Thanksgiving would not be ruined. My daughter said it was a lot of fun and her friends all gave each other some constructive tactics to use in dealing with an intolerable family member. What an optimistic approach to one of the most annoying aspects of a family Thanksgiving.

No matter what your Thanksgiving traditions are, be in the moment. Enjoy observing your family traditions. Ask those family members whom you don’t often see, “What’s new with you?” Then be exceptional and listen to them tell you. For those who think watching football on TV is the greatest thing ever, sit back and watch your family as they enjoy cheering on their favorite team. Ask Grandma if you can help clean up the kitchen. She’ll probably start a conversation with you. Appreciate the visit.

Do not use Thanksgiving as a platform from which to launch you and your family headlong into Christmas at 100 miles per hour! Thanksgiving traditions should be enjoyed, so slow down, be in the moment and revel in this great holiday and treasure the time with your family. Y’all know the drill.

Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal and welcomes your email to her at pamterrellwalker@gmail.com.

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