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By Tamara, November 2011

I would guess, the leaves are at their peek in your neck of the woods, or maybe even snow-covered in some areas as winter comes sneakin’ in this time of year, but November has it’s own beauty and excitements even though it usually means several months will follow of cold and snowy weather. But there’s always Thanksgiving to look forward to at the end of the month, and for me, it means another birthday around then too. Bah-humbug! (Being another year older after thirty somehow loses its glory!)

Where I was raised, snowflakes started falling around Halloween, so by November, everyone had battened down the hatches, and were warm inside their comfy homes. The animals were under shelter in the barn or chicken coop, and had warm straw to burrow into for long winter naps. Mom had also thrown an extra quilt on the beds to sleep snug as bugs in a rug when temperatures fell well below zero.

When we were little, we also had each other’s body-heat for warmth because the three of us kids slept in one bed. This could be dangerous for me if one of my younger brother’s happened to wet the bed, but that problem could be warming too until the covers were lifted back, and cool air hit the wet spot. Don’t laugh—I know this was not rare in a lot of households when I grew up.

Times were tough, money was scarce, and you did what you had to do under the circumstances. We three kids bathed together, slept together, fought together, and played together. It was what we, and everyone we knew, did to survive. Oh, and I left out, ‘got spanked together’—I got quite a few I didn’t deserve because Dad expected the culprit of a bad deed to fess up, and when they didn’t, he licked us all to make sure he got the guilty one. Those two brothers of mine NEVER would fess up. Mind you, I don’t agree with this kind of discipline, (never used the theory on my kids) and told my Dad how much I resented it years later. As Mom said to me once, “If laws were such then about spanking children as they are today, every dad in our little town would have been doin’ time in Sing-Sing Prison!” MOST ALL PARENTS SPANKED, and often…I realize there is a fine line between discipline and abuse, and Dad crossed it more than once, but I’m still glad we learned about who was boss, and to RESPECT authority whether it be your folks, teacher, minister, town cop, or neighbor lady down the road. We also were taught, both at home and in school, about Patriotism and to honor the flag of our country and men who had just returned from WW11, and knew the sacrifice in human life that was wrought. But most importantly, we were taught about God—these three things I see declining rapidly in our nation today. History and love of country does not exist in text books any longer, homes are a madcap meeting place on the run with Mom and Dad both working different hours and shifts, and kids being raised by daycare and schools that brainwash the little sponges with their propaganda AGAINST America, and what made her great. THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING, and it makes me feel sad and scared for the future of our country!

Stepping down from my soapbox—on to the holidays…

How much can one rave about Thanksgiving dinners and family time back in the days when everything was cooked from scratch, and the house was made ready for days prior? But that’s exactly as it was! From grandma’s rolls to the dressing, homemade pies, turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, apple salad, and vegetables from Mom’s garden that had been preserved since August in colorful array on her cellar shelves—all the wonderful trimmings you can imagine were prepared in those meals we dreamed of for days before, and ate as leftovers days after.

We usually had a couple feet of snow by Thanksgiving, so we cousins would disappear outdoors to go sledding after dinner while our moms did dishes and cleanup, and dads slept in front of the TV blaring with some football game. It was a natural setting for the times, and I can recall it all at any given moment when I let my mind wander back to those holidays of my youth.

The day after Thanksgiving was NOT called ‘Black Friday’, (modern day example: All retail stores open at 5 a.m. with huge Christmas bargains people push and shove to get to first for their spoiled children who need NOTHING, rewarding the store at the end of the day with receipts that finally put them in the black for the first time all year). Our Friday after Thanksgiving was the first day town retailers, and fire department volunteers would decorate with several Christmas wreaths and thick ropes of holly strung across our one main street, and then store owners would put out their wares, and paint their windows in Christian, or Santa Claus and Rudolph motifs. They even stayed open ‘til 9 o’clock on that Friday. Then on Saturday, there would be the lone appearance of Santa riding on our one old dilapidated fire truck, (that never made it to a fire in time to save anything but the foundation) passing out candy canes, oranges, and striped ripple candy in small paper bags to children in attendance. We were there, front and center, for the candy though we were raised to NOT believe in Santa Claus. “Was our Dad, Scrooge?” you ask. I certainly understand why! (I’ll repeat myself from other Christmas columns on this note: Dad would announce every Christmas season, “I’m Santa Claus, and Santa is broke this year!”—as he was every year though he worked hard as a jippo-logger.) He wanted us to know money didn’t grow on trees, nor did you use it frivolously, and we got the picture from the cradle up. But, somehow, it never dampened our spirits at the holidays, or the excitement of decorating the tree with Mom, or opening the few meager gifts we received from our parents, grandparents on both sides, and Aunt Aggy & Uncle Bob.

The memories of those times keep me going today, and certainly are fodder for my scribbles, as you see.

Make yours the most wonderful Thanksgiving ever this November by bringing back some of these good ol’ traditions…
Granny Tam

Here is a little ‘History Lesson’ I think we can use again this Thanksgiving:

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I think back to those early days when Pilgrims met the land,
and wonder at their first thoughts on that wet and vacant sand.
Was there hope of future in a place that would be free,
or crossing vast prairies for generations—down to me,
or did they just seek freedom from rulers on a throne
who held faith and education over lives not of their own?

To cross the mighty ocean with everything you claim—
family, parcels, keepsakes, your pride and your good name.
Thru’ sickness, fear and childbirth they rode waves for long weeks,
searching the horizon for shores they wished to seek.
They questioned not their mission, but strived to meet the task,
and questioned not their Maker of what they had been ask.

At Plymouth Rock they landed—wide-eyed and weary more,
thanking God the Father for reaching this great shore.
And soon they started building the village where they’d stay
in huts, and cabins, barns and such to shelter them each day.
By night they kept a sentry to watch the valley fort
with vigilance and love of folk to ward off foe of sort.

Red men came to peer at them thru’ grass that did surround
this colony of strangers that set foot upon their ground.
They did not want to harm them, or war with them at all,
just watch from a safe distance these white men straight and tall.
They saw them often flounder when storms would cause them fail
as crops would go asunder from rain and giant hail.

The Indians were curious but friendly just the same—
into their midst they wandered to touch their golden mane.
Language was a barrier, but love was in their heart,
to share and be united in this land they’d not depart.
Trading with the white man—sharing what they knew,
teaching whites to plant and tend the crops they often grew.

They harvested an autumn feast—toil, hard work to bear,
and sent prayers of thanks to a God they soon would share.
Thanksgiving—our tradition, was started on that day
reminding us to gather in joyfulness and play
with friend or foe to thank God for blessings He has given,
and ask him each and every day to prepare a place in Heaven.

Tamara Hillman…..©Nov/2007



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