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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Friday, November 16, 2012


I visited my sister last weekend in Charlottesville for a holiday get-together, and all of her five children were there except one.

Julie is now living in Australia, a rather far piece away, as my ancestors would say.

But with the advent of technology that is far beyond my understanding, my sister made a call (on Skype) to Julie Saturday evening (it was Sunday morning in Australia).

Seeing her and hearing her, even on a TV monitor, was quite a treat, and it reminded me of why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

It's not about shopping, gift-giving or decorating. We don't have to be concerned about the hustle and bustle that Christmas often brings.

It's just about getting people together.

The holiday is also about appreciation, taking at least one day a year to sincerely be thankful for blessings, something we should all do every day, of course.

And it's about family, spending time together and, hopefully, enjoying that time.

Some families don't really see each other very often, as people are now scattered all over creation, even Down Under. So that makes the Thanksgiving get-together even more special.

For me, the holiday is also about memories.

Many of the people I shared holidays with early in my life are now gone, yet every Thanksgiving I can see them sitting around the table as if it were yesterday.

And I remember the food, and still kick myself I didn't pay more attention and write down recipes that are no longer available. When I say available, I mean that the recipes are long gone and can't really be duplicated because they were never preserved in writing.

At the time, of course, I never thought about actually watching the cook, and writing down the recipe. We would have had to write it down because cooks back then had no recipes. They just cooked from experience and knew in their heads exactly how to make it taste the way it did.

Aunt Angum made the best sweet potato casserole I have ever eaten. Sweet, but not too sweet, and it melted in your mouth. She even had marshmallows on top, and I haven't liked marshmallows since I got sick on them when Cousin Gee and I were kids and roasted some over an open fire and I ate too many.

But they just kind of blended in with everything else in her casserole to create something far more than the sum of its parts.

I'll also have to mention Aunt Angum's green beans, with the perfect combination of fatback and whatever else she put in them when she had canned the beans the previous summer. They tasted as fresh as if they had just been picked.

My neighbor Mona Stump made the best dressing. It was sausage-based, cooked on a pan in the oven, not in the turkey. The dressing was crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and was out-of-this-world good.

She would always let me take some home with me because that dressing, a big slice of turkey and a slathering of homemade cranberry sauce made the best sandwich in the world.

Aunt Ruby made the best biscuits -- huge, not too dry or too gooey -- and they had such a unique flavor I can't really describe. She made, without a doubt, the perfect biscuit.

Aunt Tham made pumpkin pie that was so good it was difficult to have only one piece, regardless of how full I may have been, and I was always more stuffed than the turkey.

My mother made the best turkey gravy, cooked perfectly, so good you could just drink it like it was iced tea.

My grandmother cooked turkeys that were as good as smoked pheasant. It probably had something to do with cooking them in the oven of a wood cookstove, but the flavor was so distinctive I can still recall the taste. I just wish I could duplicate it.

We all shared a love of eating -- long, leisurely meals full of conversation and laughter.

The faces, the smiles, the stories, the feeling of being so loved in such a safe environment. All priceless.

Regardless of any physical distance we may have with family members and close friends, even those who have passed on, we are with them emotionally all of the time.

I can't duplicate the food, but I remember the taste.

And I can't duplicate the people and the setting, but I remember the love.

Those are the things that helped make me who I am, and help make even a few moments with a loved one on a TV monitor as special as a Thanksgiving meal.

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