Sunday, November 24, 2019

Traditions for all the family

Thanksgiving. One of those holidays that in reality did not happen in November. Nope, it happened in October. Sort of like Christ being born in August, yet we celebrate in December. Traditions. Hm. Someone started them that we did not know. They changed over generations. I am thinking we can make them even better.

New ways of thinking about Thanksgiving are not wrong. No, they open up creative thinking, allowing it to be more than just a bird and family meal. We do not need to fall into the usual roles played by our parents and grandparents. They were a product of their times. 

When I grew up, we had the same routine every year. I watched the parade every Thanksgiving morning, while Mom cooked and Dad saw to the chores. Eventually, the Johnson's trickled in with the same dishes they made every year. The women ate on the card table in the living room, and the men chowed down at the kitchen table. After the meal, leftovers were taken to the garage where it was cool. Yep, dinner would be waiting to be warmed up once more later in the day. Next the men gathered around the TV to watch football, while the women worked on a puzzle. There you have it. Our Thanksgiving tradition.

Well, times change. We learn more about family and the importance of showing our feelings. We find new recipes. We add other activities. We include all the family in creating a thankful day. My son actually does all the cooking. We all pitch into the kitty for the food. He began taking this all on when one of the people who were furnishing a main dish became ill and could not attend. So now we are covered.....unless the cook gets sick!

For me Thanksgiving should include all the family for the day. I mean, I am most thankful for my family, so why not make it a family day? Helping the children with ideas for place cards and centerpieces for the table can be great fun. Allowing them to come up with their own ideas is even better. I do not believe in the kids' table. What better way to learn about family and past than dining with the adults. Watch the parade with the kids. Get involved. Laugh and ooh/ahh together. Play games after dinner with the kids. The football viewers can actually take a turn and watch the game. They can drink beer and talk during it, so spending time with the kids can happen as well. Let the kids be part of the cleanup process. If you start them early, they will love the responsibility and interacting with aunts, uncles and all the rest. Be thankful that you have those little ones. Interact. Show the teenagers what it means to be included.

Donate money or time to charity. Give someone else something for which to be thankful. Invite someone who will be alone to join your feast. Don't focus on Black Friday. Be thankful for what you have on Thanksgiving Day.

Yes, traditions can change. They can be even more memorable. Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Used, reused and remembered

Winter approaches. This time every year I am flooded with memories of the tobacco shed. Tobacco time seemed to be family time. However, this is not about tobacco. Nope this is about tobacco lath.

For those of you who do not know about lath, here is a short synopsis. Lath are long, narrow pieces of wood that were vital in the raising of tobacco. A spear was placed on the end of the lath, so we could yank the tobacco stalk down over the lath, continuing until the lath was filled. The filled lath were then hung on beams in the tobacco barn where the tobacco would cure. Lath.

Dad handed the lath to me. I remember that I was just about the size of the tall stick. He then tied a piece of twine across one end of the lath just about eight inches down. It was then he handed me the twine reins of the harness, so I could mount my wooden horse. Yes, it was my first horse, and one that required a great deal of imagination. I found it hard to tie up my horse as it always wanted to lie down. It required no food and offered hours of keeping me out of trouble. Lath.

The old swing sits in the garage, waiting for a makeover. The paint on the laths has bubbled perhaps due to the many layers of the stuff. The swing is from my Aunt Iva's house in the 1930's. The old lath swing hung at my parent's home throughout my growing up years. I took possession of it in 2001. An old tobacco lath swing holds memories of five generations.

I held many a lath in the tobacco field. I probably even rode my wooden horse out there. Now the one precious lath I have hangs out in a basket with a few other treasures. I've seen pictures of things like tables, headboards, wall hangings, Christmas decorations and more made from lath. I love that they still have life. Used, reused and remembered.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Let the festivities begin

The dead flowers are either tossed or set in a cool place to awaken again next spring. Geese have been maneuvering in the sky above, creating that perfect V. Those leaves that have escaped the raking hang on the tree, waiting until we go into the house. Then they fall. Oh, well, great mulch for the yard, and, just maybe, a wind will find them a new home. The irises have crew cuts and lights are waiting to be hung in the trees. Change is in the air.

Even though we have mild weather we decided to begin setting suet cages out for the birds. The squirrel hangs from a branch, working hard to get a little claw through the cage. Birds flit and flutter, covering the cage with their wings. Hummingbird feeders are moved to the porch next to the house. We are dedicated to them, and it seems they like to live in our trees.

The twins already have their Christmas lists started. This year toys are fading away as games, crafts and construction sets make the lists over and over again. Oh, yes, seasons change and so, too, do the ages of children. Christmas music is already on the air, and it all makes me want to bake cookies. There is a feeling of excitement that just naturally permeates all of us. We begin thinking of turkey and cranberries. We need to make decisions about food, gifts, parties, etc. Will we put the tree up the weekend or wait a week? Will we eat the same food we have eaten for the last 60 years or change it up a little? College kids will be home soon with dirty laundry and lazy bones. Traveling for the holidays will begin. And all too soon it will end.

Perhaps this holiday is taking us away from all the worries in the world. Perhaps we are looking forward to escaping for a couple of months. I can think of no place better to get a reprieve than being surrounded by loved ones, delicious food and giggles and hugs. Let the festivities begin!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Two boys for sale on Monday

A book was passed on to me. I sat looking at it wondering if I really wanted to dive into its pages. Sold on Monday by Kristina McMorris. On the cover of the book is a small boy with a suitcase sitting next to him. Sold on Monday. A man stumbles across two boys sitting on the porch of their run down home. TWO BOYS FOR SALE reads the sign above them. The man who saw the boys was troubled. I was even more troubled. In fact, the thought sickened me and would not leave me. How could a parent just put a sign above their child and turn aside? How do you give up a child to save money or to make profit?

Of course, all this led to investigation. The stories were heartbreaking. Children during the Depression had been sold for only a couple dollars to farmers who basically used them as slaves. Girls were raped or sold by the people who took them in. Children were treated as nothing more than a piece of livestock. Desperation seemed to numb people to the reality of what they were doing. It was a horrible time of starvation and destitution. Again, the thought sickened me.

There were those who had so many children that they could not feed all the mouths. So, those children were sold or given away. Then the people went on to have more children as they prospered. Those they kept. The stories are tragic. In my research I found stories of those adult children trying to find their siblings as they piece together their pasts and find pieces of themselves. Many children during that time were given to other family members to raise. Families were separated in order to save them. For a child who grew up with the joys of living on the farm, the thought of losing my sisters to others was terrifying.

I was not a child of the Depression. However, over the years, before I came along, several cousins and children of other families had come to live at our house occasionally. In one family, the children were separated and sent to live with other family members when the mother died. In another, the mother was destitute. Her husband died leaving her with three children and no way to raise them. I believe her son came to stay with Mom and Dad just to give her a reprieve. It is a history I can now understand a bit better.

I know. This is a depressing subject, but I have a reason for posting this. There are children today in foster homes. Children living on the streets in poverty. We live our every day lives of prosperity and hope while so many families are suffering. Children separated from families yearning to have love and stability in their lives.

The holidays are coming. We are planning for a day of thankfulness. There are agencies that can help those in need. There are children who need homes. There are women who are struggling in a life alone. There are elderly who would give anything for a conversation with a stranger or a family member. You can be the difference.

Yes, I will finish the book. But the sign still haunts me: Two Boys for Sale. Please remember that you have much to give. Give someone else a reason to be thankful.