Over the river, and through the woods…

Published 12:28 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

By Les Ferguson, Jr.

“Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go.” I remember that song from long ago, and it looks pertinent today. 

As you read the paper, my immediate family is getting ready to hit the road early tomorrow. We will be traveling to my wife’s family home in Vicksburg. 

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When we sing about going through the woods to grandmother’s house, that’s precisely what we will do. Our destination is deep in the heart of Warren County, where neighbors are few and far between, and the sunshine must be piped in. 

We will be joined by siblings, cousins, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends, and others like me. Somebody must be the nerdy, goofy, married-into-the-family in-law — that’s my role, and I’m sticking to it. 

Besides that, I’m the token minister in this significant gathering, and it will be my privilege to offer the blessing at the appropriate time. 

Like many other families, the spread of food will be huge. We’ll have the obligatory turkey and dressing. 

There’ll be more sides than you can imagine, and most will be traditional treats this family is accustomed to. You’ll find things like potato casserole, grown-up Mac and Cheese that is to die for, green bean casserole, and venison prepared in multiple ways. My memory is failing as I try to remember all the dishes to choose from, but my stomach growls at the thought of all the anticipated culinary delights. 

And, of course, there will be more desserts than you can shake a stick at. However, I’ll have eyes for one dessert alone: my wife’s world-famous (at least to me) bread pudding. Even with all the food choices available, I’m tempted to eat nothing but bread pudding. But in the immortal words of John Denver, “The Lord and my wife wouldn’t think it very good.” 

For our family, this will be a Thanksgiving with some missing from around the table. Some have been absent for a while; others are newly gone, as in the first Thanksgiving without them. I’m sure a tear or two will be shed, and some stories will be told. 

And yet, despite all the heartache and trauma of this world, we have so much to be thankful for. As the Psalmist says, “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his faithful love and his wondrous works for all humanity. For he has satisfied the thirsty and filled the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:8–9 CSB17)

Happy Thanksgiving!