As people all over this great Nation take part in the traditional celebration of Thanksgiving, I’d first like to wish everyone a very safe and joyful day.
Growing up in the great South and in a small town, I was very blessed to have a family where both sides were close and somewhat normal. I can remember as a kid waking up on Thanksgiving morning to the smell of sweet potato pie simmering in the oven as it was being prepared, among other dishes, to take as we say in the South, “up the road” to my Grandmothers house for Thanksgiving dinner. Even though we ate around noon, we still call it dinner.
My mom was busy in the kitchen preparing other dishes and my Dad was always outside doing things that probably didn’t amount to much. Just “piddling around”, which is another phrase we use in the South (chuckle).
My mom would go back and forth from the kitchen to the bathroom and continue to get ready. Getting ready means putting on makeup and doing her hair. It was a very detailed and long process as she was always considered a true Southern Belle, and she very well deserved the title since she spent such a long process to get “ready”. This was not just done on special occasions, but every single morning before she went to work. Of course I lost her back in 1997, in which, I wrote a blog about that you can read for details on that tragic event, but her memory and the person she was is always remembered in the utmost respect by others, and I’m thankful I had her for the time I did.
Once noon approached, Dad, mom and myself began putting everything in the car and my job was to make sure nothing spilled as we headed “up the road” to Grandmaw’s house.
Once we arrived, I always bypassed all my cousins, my Aunt and Uncles and made my way to give my Grandmaw a big hug. I loved seeing her face light up when I would come into the kitchen, where she was putting all the dishes together and of course her own that she had been preparing since the night before.
I had the best of both type of Thanksgivings. I’ll describe them both but I can’t put into words how lucky I was in having such great Grandparents on both sides of my Family.
My mom’s side, Grandmaw, was the type of “get together” where we all ate buffet style. The food, which consisted of all the typical Southern dishes, were placed all around the tiny kitchen. All the deserts were placed on a separate card table, and there were many, many different deserts. When it was time to eat, all the kids came inside from playing in the yard and we all held hands and had our prayer. It was usually around 16 of us in my Grandmaw’s tiny 3 bedroom, brick home. We were all Christians, and all of us were raised in decent, loving homes.
Once we blessed the food, we began to eat until finally we all passed out sort of speak from being stuffed. Everyone fixed a plate and headed to a spot whether it be the kitchen or the den or outside on the sidewalk. Most of us kids ate outside and the adults ate in the kitchen. We ate on paper plates and drank sweet tea from paper cups. It saved on doing so many dishes since it was so many of us.
Once the afternoon rolled around the only sounds heard were of the women in the kitchen cleaning up and gossiping about life, the sound of the football games where all the men were and us kids outside playing. Life was amazingly pleasant for all of us. We weren’t rich by any means, but we were extremely wealthy with love and family.
When the evening time came, my dad, mom and myself left to go to my other Grandparents house. This was my Dad’s side, and she was Granny Guy. It was just my grandparents and us. I’m the only grandchild on that side of the family. This was the traditional “sit down” Thanksgiving dinner. The table was elegantly decorated with the finest china and cloth napkins in place. Glasses filled with ice and set at the table.
Mom helped Granny set the table and place the food in the correct arrangement, as Dad, my grandfather and myself sat in the den and talked about hunting. This side of my family were big hunters, and I’m grateful today that I know how to not only hunt, but also clean a deer, fish and cook it. I would have no problem in surviving in the wild if something happened to power and conveniences of today’s world.
Once everything was set, my Granny would always say, “ya’ll come on”, and we all gathered around the table and Granny would tell us which chair to sit in. Once we were all in place, we held hands and blessed the food. We were all Christians on the Guy side as well. Just like my other Grandmothers, we had all the traditional, Southern dishes and Granny always made at least 2 chocolate pies and 2 type of cakes.
Now, it sounds more elegant and fancy at my Granny Guy’s dinner, but it wasn’t fancy as in material things, because they, like my other Grandparent’s, were not rich either in terms of money. However, they were very wealthy because of again the love we had and family. Once we finished eating we all retired to the living room and had great conversations about life in general. That was the true blessing. As with both sides of the family, when you were leaving you always had a handful of leftovers to take home. It was the Southern norm.
So you see, I was blessed to have a great traditional Thanksgiving in two very different ways. The all get together and casually eat and lounge setting, and then the more formal sit down traditional setting. Even though it was two very different ways of enjoying Thanksgiving, one thing remained common in both, and that is the love we have for each other, God and the blessings in our lives. To this day, we still celebrate those things even though some are no longer with us as they are gone to enjoy a much larger Thanksgiving in Heaven. We still give thanks for the love and time we shared.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving and keep love and family with you always. Remember family doesn’t necessarily have to be blood related, as I have “family” all over this great Country, but by keeping those two things in your life, you are truly wealthy on Thanksgiving day.
Jason Young Guy