Thursday, December 05, 2013

Our Southern Family Thanksgiving 2013

We enjoyed traveling to visit our many relatives in North Carolina last Thanksgiving. Having 50-100 people any one of three different evenings enjoying food and each other is a blast. This year the mood was a bit more somber as my husband's father, one of twelve brothers and sisters, passed away in September and we were taking his ashes back "home" to be interred near his parents and having a service with his family (10 of the 12 siblings were present...the only one who couldn't make it was the eldest uncle who lives in CA and whose wife is very ill).

We drove on Wednesday. We waited until the boys got home from school so didn't leave until almost 1pm. We were slowed a bit by traffic. The drive took 11 hours instead of 8 but we expected that. We stayed in the "Grandmother's home"...the house that my husband's grandmother lived in which has been owned by her youngest son who keeps it available for visiting relatives and large family gatherings like Thanksgiving weekend.

Thursday relatives started arriving early in the morning to cook and deliver food they'd already cooked. By noon, there were over 30 people gathered and more food than we had room on the kitchen surfaces for. A little later, prayers were said and everyone lined up to fill their plates. Following dinner we sat around talking and playing games until late into the night.

Friday morning, Ritch and the boys headed to the graveyard to prepare the site and bury the ashes so everything would be ready for the service on Sunday. Once they came back, Ritch headed with Uncle Shep to get the pig for Saturday's barbecue, Dylan was off helping Uncle Doug, and I took Haley and Newt into the city for our yearly fresh-made doughnuts. We got back to Grandmom's house just as Aunt Kim, Uncle James, Michelle, and Meredith arrived. It was a little warmer so we all stood around outside talking and the men began getting things ready for the fish fry/oyster boil evening. Fires were available in cans so we could stand around and stay warm. Fish and shrimp were fried. Oysters and shrimp were boiled and dumped into a huge metal table shaped like a sink. People brought casseroles, dips, and cheese grits (my favorite). Some ate outside and some ate inside. People everywhere! The kids had a great time hanging out and playing games with their cousins.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is always Pig Roast Day. We have attended this event on occassion since Newt was a baby. The uncles get up early in the morning (5:30am) to start the pig.

Cousin Chuck made some oyster stew from the leftover oysters for breakfast.

Later on the chicken is started on another cooker. Around noon the women show up with casseroles, side dishes, and desserts. Over ninety relatives were in attendance! I always look around this gathering and think how amazing it is that everyone there is related. They come from all walks of life and have so many different personalities. They may not always get along but for this one day a year, they all put aside their differences and enjoy each other. I picture Grandmom looking down from Heaven smiling to see all her progeny on a day like this.

Sunday morning was the service laying Ritch's father to rest. The preacher was a cousin. Haley played him a slow air, Ritch's brother Heath said some words, and Uncle Shep brought us to tears with his farewell to his brother...talking about the twelve siblings as a clock missing number 4. After the visit to the graveyard, we headed home. The traffic slowed a bit but we were pleasantly surprised to make it home in decent time.

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