This is an opinion piece.


The day before Thanksgiving in 1974 was spent like all the others of my childhood… in the kitchen with my mother. I was only eight years old, but loved helping Momma cook as often as possible… especially during the holiday meal preparations.  That day, we baked a Kentucky Wonder Cake, two pecan pies and a big pone of cornbread for the pan of dressing she would make the following morning.  

My brother, Ralph, and his wife were coming home for the November holiday as well as my older sister, Brenda, and her husband who lived in Huntsville. Momma was worried about Brenda making the hour-long trip because she was just two weeks away from her due date with the first grandchild of our family.  

That night around midnight, I was deep asleep when Daddy gently shook my shoulder and whispered for me to wake up and get dressed as quickly as possible. My brother-in-law, Jimmy, had called from the Huntsville Hospital and announced that the new addition to our family was trying to make an early appearance.  

We grabbed coats and shoes and were walking out the back door, when I panicked. “What about Thanksgiving?” I asked. Having spent the previous day preparing for it, I didn’t want anything… not even a birth… to interfere with our special day.  

Momma agreed with Daddy when he suggested we take everything with us and celebrate at my sister’s house. We used an entire roll of aluminum foil and every brown paper bag we could find, but we got everything packed up and ready to travel.  

Daddy stacked pie pans, cake plates and Tupperware bowls all around me in the back seat of Momma’s Ford Gran Torino. I got so upset when he said he was putting the turkey in the trunk…that just sounded awful to me… but Momma was afraid it would leak in her new car. So…the 20-pound turkey made the trip in the trunk as we set out for the biggest event my family had enjoyed in several years.   

My nephew, Timothy Wayne Cunningham, was born in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning with the obvious nickname of “Turkey.” He was a big baby…weighing over eight pounds…and was healthy with a thick head of hair.  

Running on coffee and the new title of “MawMaw,” my mother outdid herself that day even though cooking in someone else’s kitchen was no easy feat. By noon, we all celebrated with heaping plates of turkey and dressing, sweet potato casserole and green beans. We took a plate of food and some pecan pie to Brenda at the hospital and got another look at the new addition to our clan. It was the best Thanksgiving I had ever had! 

Thanksgiving is a day of family togetherness, even more so than Christmas to me. These days, the Yuletide season has become so commercialized that the true meaning of the merry holiday seems to get overlooked by many people. Thanksgiving, however, holds no visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads and brightly wrapped gifts crowded under the tree. It’s just a good old-fashioned day of delicious foods, being with family and expressing our thanks for all we have in life.  

This week, I will spend several hours in my own kitchen getting ready for Thursday. I’ll make a big pone of cornbread, some pecan pies and Momma’s Kentucky Wonder Cake. My turkey is waiting in the refrigerator…but if I ever need to put it in the trunk for an unexpected trip, I know from experience that it will be just fine.

Sandy Holsonback in a guest columnist for The Reporter.

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