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November 1999 Issue
Thanksgiving at Momma Gert's Place
by Royce Smith
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Greetings from my home to yours.

With this being our Thanksgiving issue at Seasoned Cooking, I would first like to extend a warm and heartfelt best wish to each of you! I do hope that your Thanksgiving will reflect a thankful attitude of appreciation, servitude, and gratitude for being endowed the privilege of having a grandiose meal, wonderful and loving friends and family, and just a pleasant day all around.

Thanksgiving at Momma Gert's Place growing up was always a festive event. We always began canning and cooking at the latter part of autumn in preparation for the winter holidays. Yes, I realize that Thanksgiving is considered an autumn holiday BUT in the South it can be pleasant or it can be cold. Normally, immediately on or after Halloween, cold and dreary weather begins to creep in.

Normally, we would can and/or freeze all of the vegetables we would serve for Thanksgiving in late August or early September. We would begin to bake and create desserts about one week prior to the event. Meats and dressing were always cooked about three to four days prior to Thanksgiving. Bread was always prepared a day before (rolls) and the day of (corn bread).

On Thursday, family and friends from all around would descend on our home. Uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, neighbors, and ministers would come to fellowship with Momma Gert and company. While Momma Gert normally did most of the cooking, many of the women of the family would bring special dishes in order to help aide the feast that would be set before the company. The men always brought the alcohol. A special room would always be set up for the men to enjoy a cigarette, cigar, or pipe with a glass of bourbon, brandy, scotch, and/or beer. The younger generation of men always headed straight for the television set to watch the football game while the older gentlemen began the story telling. In this room, these old gentlemen could tell some of the funniest stories ever imagined. My Uncle James was known for his stories beyond anyone else who would tell them.

Every Thanksgiving, we knew that he would crank up the parlor with laughter. He would always begin with the story of Jonah and the Whale. His story went like this:

    There was an old minister named Uncle Fred who always took his nephew John with him to church. During one sermon, Uncle Fred began to preach and took his text from Jonah. During the course of his sermon, he began to get riled up and tell the parishioners: "Umm, Jonah swallowed whale." John looked at him the first time and stirred in his seat. Uncle Fred looked up and hollered out again, "Umm, Jonah swallowed whale." John stirred in his seat as the women began to scream and shout as Uncle Fred began to make his impression. On the third time, Uncle Fred yelled out... "And I know that Jonah swalled the whale." John couldn't bear it any longer. He walked up to his Uncle Fred and patted him on the leg until he got his attention. "Uncle, Uncle, the whale swallowed Jonah." Uncle Fred looked at the boy and then at the astonished crowd and said: "Umm, I know there was some swallowing done."

Roars of laughter began in the parlor and fun and fellowship continued on through the night.

I do miss those days of the elders of my family, yet it is essential that the traditions continue.

I hope you and your family will continue old traditions this year as well as make new ones.

Let me leave you with a wish for a very Happy Thanksgiving to you from all of us at Momma Gert's Place.



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