It’s only two weeks until turkey time

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, November 10, 2022

By Jan Penton Miller

With only two weeks and two days until turkey time I had better get shopping for my family’s favorite dishes. Actually, they do change from time to time so I think I’ll check for special requests. We usually eat the traditional fare. Turkey, cornbread dressing, and all those fattening casseroles, but hey, Thanksgiving only comes round once a year, and we can take a walk to work off a few of those extra calories.

My grandson, Gauge, loves my sweet potato casserole. I make mine the old fashioned way with marshmallows as a topping. As a young child I remember watching my Mamaw make hers this way, and I have followed the tradition for many years. When the house fills with smells of turkey and dressing in the oven it always brings me back to my youth, and the love I felt coming from my Mamaw’s kitchen.

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Every year about this time I fondly remember that sweet and hardworking woman who taught me much about sacrificial love. My grandmother was never glamorous; she was actually rather plain. She was heavy set and wore her hair in a bun to keep it out of her face. I don’t think she ever wore makeup, but the love inside made her beautiful.

Mamaw had a son who was not especially loving or kind. He has long since passed so I can share this without offending anyone. The rather odd thing about him was that he was a lay speaker. For folks who don’t get church talk, he preached from time to time, and those who heard him said he was good at it. As a child I was appalled at how he spoke to his mother, and it was hard for me to wrap my head around him preaching.

The reason I bring this up is from my little eyes and ears I saw and heard how he treated my grandmother, but more than that, I saw how my grandmother treated him. She could not have been any more humble and kind. One day I asked her how she could let him talk to her the way he did. She answered sweetly and rather sadly that he was probably just not having a very good day.

I’m not saying that she shouldn’t have called him out on his bad behavior. Maybe she did when I wasn’t around to hear, but I have always been impressed by her great compassion. My grandmother showed her love by acts of service. She spent many hours in the kitchen or in the garden. That was absolutely her happy place, and when I plan and work to make things special for my family I feel that I’m honoring her legacy.

Mamaw taught in a one-room schoolhouse and loved reading. She read about exotic places, I’m sure, but never traveled much. Most of her days were spent working and loving on the family farm, but her quiet strength made a lasting impression on me.  

Jan Penton Miller writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle.