Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

November 24, 2013


Mama knew how to celebrate Thanksgiving

Mama loved serving a big meal for her family on Thanksgiving Day. Few things pleased her more than having the whole family come together and enjoy a sumptuous meal around her dining room table.  This became a tradition during my childhood and continued throughout the 67 years my folks were married.

We were not wealthy. Times were hard, especially for farmers. Dad raised cows and hogs and grew cotton and corn. I would learn later that I had been born during the "depression years." But I never thought we were poor; we just did not have some of the things other families had.

Dad always had a big garden so there was food on the table even when there was little money. My three sisters, my brother, and I ate at a table which my dad built with his own hands. After my parents died my siblings told me I could have the table. I have treasured it. I treasure it even more since my friends Allen Brewer and Jim Rush refinished it for us. They gave that old table a new and beautiful life.

Many families seldom eat together these days. Things change. But I think there is value in sitting around a supper table together as a family. I still enjoy doing it when my grandchildren can sit still long enough. Family matters. Perhaps that is the great message of the day called Thanksgiving.

Mama’s meals were predictable. Toasted pecans were always on the table. She always fixed both pumpkin pie and potato pie. My brother Seth liked potato pie and did not like pumpkin pie. The rest of us loved mama’s pumpkin pie, every slice of which was decorated with a spoonful of whipped cream. It was not Cool Whip; she whipped the cream herself. But pie was not enough; mama never missed serving ambrosia for dessert also. And the ambrosia was topped off with a cherry.

We had turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce and also ham. The vegetables were mostly from daddy’s garden; and he never tired of telling us he had grown the vegetables in his garden. Mama and Dad believed in canning so we had an endless supply of lima beans, corn, tomatoes, okra, black-eyed peas, potatoes, onions, and green beans. They took great pride in the hard work that put food on the table.

After lunch there was the family ritual of winterizing mamma’s greenhouse. Our sons and their cousins would climb up on the roof and pull a plastic covering over the fragile glass roof. Dad had a gas furnace inside the greenhouse so he and mama could take care of their flowers through the winter.

Finally one year the old greenhouse was bull-dozed down and its remains were buried in a deep hole in the ground. It was just as well. Most of the windows were broken and it had not been used for several years. Dad was proud of having built that green house for mama. She loved to grow flowers and she loved to share her flowers. In every place we ever lived we planted some of mama’s flowers. 

Mama and daddy are gone now and the old greenhouse too but many wonderful memories remain in the heart of this grateful son. Customs change. Traditions die. As we get older we have to adapt to those changes. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving now as we once did but I am at peace about it. Treasured memories help create a gentle peace in the heart.

As old ways give way to change, one thing does not change – the need for traditions that hold families together. That is the great value of traditions. And that is the challenge facing each new generation – to create traditions that make precious memories possible.

I hope my grandchildren will one day have Thanksgiving memories that will give them peace as their traditions are changed. Most of all I pray they will share my conviction that family matters.  + + +