The Flatlander | Stone County Chief

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By Steve Watkins

You’ve probably seen the memes on social media. A man or woman seated at a table in a busy place. There is a sign on the table declaring a “truth” with a follow-up statement, Convince me I’m wrong.

If I’m the guy in this meme, my statement is: Thanksgiving is the best day of the year. Convince me that I am wrong.

It’s been like that for as long as I can remember. I like everything during the day. It’s just different. Every sense comes to life. I can realize my passion for preparing good food for a large group. Everything slows down for a moment. The people are happy. Almost tangibly you feel peace.

I recently took a few moments to ask a few friends to share some of their favorite Thanksgiving stories. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Blake Henley: A few years ago my aunt told my mom that it was time for Kathi and I to be “grown ups and bring something to dinner”. She texted me and said, “I make turkey and ham, rolls, mashed potatoes and pies. Your mom makes sweet potatoes, corn (both kinds), dressing, peas, baked beans, stuffed eggs, bunches of green beans, and that fruit thing she does. You and Kathi have to bring something to go with this. You are all 40 years old!

She left me with so many options, so I decided to bring something that wasn’t on the list: sushi.
I walked into Thanksgiving dinner with two large trays of sushi and set them on the kitchen bar. My mom (from Southeast Arkansas) put her hand on my face, and my aunt (from Southwest Louisiana) almost knocked the Paula Deen off her.

“Who’s bringing sushi on Thanksgiving ?!” She exclaimed towards the heavens with great dramatic flair.

I explained that there really wasn’t much to choose from, so I just brought something that I thought people would like.

The two trays were completely empty during the first pass. None left for the afternoon grazing.
I brought more for Christmas dinner.

I have been forgiven. The family always comes together. My aunt has found her inner Martha Stewart. All is well.

Stephanie White: When my daughters were little they hated traditional Thanksgiving food, so we came up with Favorites Foods Thanksgiving. Many years have included spaghetti, fried chicken, sausage and cookie sauce, pancakes, barbecue, and prawns Alfredo to name a few. Luckily, they’ve grown to love a traditional spread, but when they haven’t, we’ve made the most of it. The children asked for and were grateful for their “favorite foods”.

David Spurlock: I had just sat down to eat the last slice of my grandma’s apple pie. My cousin Tommy walked over and tried to grab my pie, so without hesitation I stabbed his hand with my fork. That was about 20 years ago. No one has tried to remove food from my plate since! (Note: No word at this time if the statute of limitations on this has passed.)
Kory Sanders: Before saying thanks and eating, we go around the table and everyone says what they are grateful for. It’s going to be difficult this year. It was the hardest of my life.

Kathleen Bruner: One of my favorite memories from our Southern Thanksgiving was making cornbread dressing with my mom that morning. My job was to crumble the cornbread. After starting my own family, I had always taken the easy route with Stove Top Stuffing. One year, I decided to make homemade cornbread dressing. When the meal was over, my young daughters looked at me and said, “Next year can we have Stove Top? I guess my daughters (who were raised and live in New York) will never be from the South.

Paula Miles: For 31 years, Rick and I (and later Michael) would go to my mom’s to be with all my siblings for a Thanksgiving meal at 1 p.m. Then we would hurry home and have a double dinner at our house for Rick’s parents. It was a very busy day with a lot of cooking for me and a lot of food. During all these years, I never complained and loved the chaos. Now I miss my mother’s table (even though I have her china and glassware). I miss Rick’s mom dress. I have the recipe, but it’s not the same when I make it. We replaced those vacation memories with Megan and her grandchildren, and my siblings now have their own family traditions. And as good as things are now, I still look back on those years as part of a wonderful life.

Our grown-ups are adopted – and came to us at different ages (they started with four, ages 2-11, and are now seven, ages 11-20. Admire their fantastic parents.) Most don’t ‘ve never had the chance to crack an egg. , sift flour or even open a box of pie filling. So we decided to launch Pie Night.

Each grand searches for and selects a pie they want to bake – and we bake it the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. We had the best pecan pie ever, delicious carrot cake, and refined creme brulee with a flambé topping. It’s a great night of recipe reading, measuring, and washing dishes. I now have a large collection of glass baking pieces so we have enough to make our desserts. But I also have a heart full of special memories – and so do they. We are ready for this year’s festivities.
PS. We end the evening with new Christmas pajamas.

See you in the newspaper next week.

(Next week: Christmas gift ideas under $ 100. Steve Watkins is a writer for the Stone County Leader.)

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