by Jean Gordon

Thanksgiving Day will be here in 26 days and 25 days after it’ll be Christmas Day — my two favorite holidays of the year because all of my life they’ve been about family and going home. No doubt this year will be different but the reason for the seasons have not changed — being grateful and celebrating the birth of Christ.

As a child growing up in Rutherford County, Thanksgiving Day meant going to our grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving supper. My mama’s parents, her siblings and all their children gathered around the table, said grace and had the traditional turkey, gravy, dressing, cranberry sauce, potatoes, rolls, green beans and pumpkin pie. Some of the men spent part of the day hunting.
Thanksgiving Day changed years later as my immediate family went back to our parents’ house for supper where we had the traditional meal.

Our Thanksgiving meal was also at supper time because some years Daddy had to work.  If he was off work we did farming chores while Mama prepared the meal. Since there were four of us girls, some helped Daddy in the fields and some helped Mama in the kitchen. It was not unusual for the family to become engaged in a leaf raking party. When the work was done, we all gathered around the table and gave thanks, each family member naming a particular blessing. 

Thanksgiving Day has always been a favorite holiday for me because there are no expectations and no one is concerned about gift giving and whether our gift is appropriate to give another. This day is just about being thankful. 

Going home for Christmas was also a family tradition, and since our grandparents lived in Rutherford County, traveling over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house was always special. Christmas Day began at our house with Santa gifts under the tree and later it was to our grandparents’ houses.  My Grandpa Crawford read the Christmas story from his Bible as all the children sat around him on the floor. After he passed way, other family members took up the tradition. 

Later as my sisters and I grew up and left home, we returned home for Christmas, which was Mama’s Christmas wish every year. None of us lived far away so we were always back home. She followed in her Daddy’s footsteps and began the Christmas story Bible reading at her home. Today her grandchildren and great-grandchildren still carry on with the reading. Whether or not we have the opportunity to gather as large families or we must gather with just a few on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day this year, we will still celebrate. 

I will be grateful for every blessing from God and that our lives have been spared, and we are so blessed.  We will say prayers for those families whose members can’t go home anymore and are missing from the dinner table.

Christmas Day will be family and celebrating the birth of Christ at church and home. With a large family or only a few, we can quietly sing Christmas carols behind a face covering. We will enjoy the sparkling Christmas lights and decorations as we ride in our cars through cities, town and the country. Church services may be different but the Christmas has not changed.

Maybe this year we should have the most beautiful tree ever and make sure that no matter what, the needy children in Rutherford County will have a gift and the hungry are fed. Instead of asking little children what they’re getting, maybe we could ask them what they’re giving. That is where the true joy comes. 

If we are confined to home with a small gathering we can get out those photo albums and enjoy a “Remember when . . .” time. We will celebrate the greatest story ever told, Jesus. 

And yes, we will be home for the holidays — either in person or certainly in the true spirit of family and Christmas.

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Jean Gordon is a freelance writer in Rutherford County. She spent nearly 50 years writing the news of the county and its people for two newspapers.