To Grandmother’s house we go

Published 6:15 am Wednesday, November 15, 2023

By Jan Penton-Miller

With Thanksgiving fast approaching I’m beginning to shop for all the “fixin’s” for a traditional feast. I know that many folks create a variety of recipes that run the gambit, but my family loves the tried and true. I always ask if anyone would like something different, but tradition wins every time with our bunch so turkey and dressing it is.

My thoughts invariably return to my earliest memories of the Thanksgiving holiday and my dear ‘Mamaw.” Her clothes were functional and no frill. Mamaw wore little to no makeup, and her hair was invariably pulled back into a severe bun. Her girth was considerable; she seemed almost as big around as she was tall.

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You may wonder why I paint her picture as being so plain, but her looks were only what could be seen at first glance. After getting to know my grandmother the way she looked was inconsequential, she was anything but plain vanilla. Mamaw was downright fancy.

Her house was always filled with children and adults especially around the holidays. The early risers had to step gingerly to avoid the pallets of children nestled in every nook and cranny. I often awakened to the gentle sound of her pots rattling in the kitchen. She always kept the noise to a minimum so that others could sleep in. The wonderful aroma off bacon frying and biscuits baking tickled my nose as my sleepy little girl self awakened.

Everyone seemed to stay nestled under the covers except Mamaw who had breakfast almost completed by the time the other grownups started to stir. What a selfless woman she was to take on the lion’s share of work while others rested. I saw this scenario play out time and time again, and now I wonder if she ever wished for some early morning companionship and a little help in her still, cold kitchen.

The women finally joined her when it was almost time to eat and helped put the food on the table while all of the littles impatiently waited. Everything served was fresh and tasty with many of the items grown on the farm.

The other children and I were in charge of gathering fresh eggs from wherever the chickens hid their nests. I thought this was great fun, and I was skinny so I fit in tight spaces where the hens hid their nests. The old farmhouse was on blocks, and I crawled under many times in search of eggs. As an adult I think about snakes crawling under there looking for breakfast too! I’m so glad that I never ran into one! 

The long table was filled with food each morning, but it practically groaned with the weight of it especially on holidays. We always bowed our heads to pray before any meal. My sturdy farmer grandparents worked hard to provide for all who sat at their table, but they never failed to realize where their help came from.