[This column was originally published in the Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008 edition of The Reporter.]

We celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday at The Reporter by partaking in our annual holiday feast.

I want to offer my compliments to the ladies, and men, of The Reporter who brought “covered dishes” as we like to call them in the Baptist church.

A special thanks goes to Mag Gunter, the grandmother of Reporter Business Manager Sonia Gunter, who prepared dressing, green beans, corn, okra and yams for the meal.

Mrs. Gunter also baked a red velvet cake in honor of Sonia’s birthday. Sonia was one of three ladies at the paper — the others being Jackie Dilbeck and Teresa Lien — who celebrated their big days this month.

Jackie, who works in our composing department, has been with The Reporter for 39 years. We wouldn’t trade our “Grand” Jackie for anyone.

Another big hit at the luncheon was my mom’s homemade sourdough bread.

The last thing David Clemons asked me Wednesday was if I was bringing bread to the luncheon. Upon arriving at the office Thursday morning, I wasn’t greeted by, “Good morning, Shannon,” but by, “Did you bring bread?”

I kept Mom’s bread hidden away until it was time to eat, because I didn’t want any of the three loaves disappearing before the noon hour.

Debra “Deb-O” Hedgepath called dibs on any leftover slices, but folks aren’t going to bypass manna from Heaven.

Sam Dooley, my good friend and great American, was the first one to refer to Mom’s bread as “manna from Heaven.”

I know I’m biased, but the truth is the truth. I’d put my mother’s sourdough bread up against anyone’s.

After preparing my plate, I sat down at a table with Ben Shurett, David, Elizabeth Summers, George Jones, John Chumley and Chuck Allgood. I can assure you, none of us left the table hungry.

Ben, John and George kept extolling the benefits of gravy to Elizabeth, but she wouldn’t bite, figuratively or literally.

I sided with Elizabeth in the gravy debate. Yes, I was born and raised in the South, but I don’t like gravy. Period.

I also don’t like grits, which somehow worked their way into our discussion. I think it’s when David mentioned something about eating shrimp grits.

“Grits are gross,” I said, and then I began chanting it, drawing laughter from Elizabeth.

George said I should entitle my column, “Grits, gravy and gross,” but I’m afraid it would offend all of you grits and gravy lovers.

It’s probably a good thing we don’t eat every day at The Reporter like we did on Thursday. We all were fighting off the urge to take naps the remainder of the afternoon.

Ben mentioned something about requisitioning a cot. Maybe I should ask him to make it cots before we conduct our Christmas lunch.

Shannon J. Allen is sports editor for The Reporter. He can be reached at shannon.allen@sandmountainreporter.com.

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