THANKFUL FOR THANKSGIVING
On Thursday, we will all celebrate Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday of the year as it is devoted to the three “F”s that make America great—Food, family, and football.
I will be celebrating it where I’ve celebrated most Thanksgivings over the last 40 years … in the booming metropolis of South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
South Pittsburg is a Norman Rockwell—type little town at the base of Monteagle Mountain. It is the home of the annual Cornbread Festival sponsored by Lodge Manufacturing, a company that is based in South Pittsburg and makes quite simply the greatest skillets in the world.
I will be eating cornbread next Thursday along with turkey and dressing, and many wonderful side dishes straight out of the South Pittsburg Lions Club Cookbook.
Our Thanksgiving dinner will be prepared by a host of outstanding cooks from my wife’s family, including my wife, and about 50 of her aunts from Marion County.
The Thanksgiving delicacies will be delivered in Tupperware containers to the fellowship hall in the church in South Pittsburg.
We used to have the annual Thanksgiving dinner at the home of my in-laws, Claude and Howard Swafford. Claude and Howard are in Heaven now, and the only place the family can find to accommodate the large crowd that gathers for Thanksgiving dinner is the fellowship hall of the local church.
For many years, one of the regular features of our family Thanksgiving was the annual Turkey Bowl football game. This was an annual matchup of two undefeated teams, one coached by Uncle John, a preacher who as a young man played football for Carson Newman College. I actually coached the other team despite my total lack of athletic ability.
The two teams that played in the Turkey Bowl each year were both undefeated. That’s because each team had not played a single game before the Turkey Bowl.
But alas, the Turkey Bowl was cancelled several years ago due to several orthopedic injuries. We actually considered changing the name from the “Turkey Bowl” to the “Chiropractic Bowl”, but decided the best thing to do was just sit around the TV after Thanksgiving dinner and watch professional athletes play football.
But I still miss the thrill and pageantry of the annual Turkey Bowl.
I am particularly grateful for the traditional family Thanksgiving since I recognize the days for my big family Thanksgiving are numbered. The Lord is calling many members of our family home, and many of the remaining aunts and uncles and cousins are opting for smaller Thanksgiving gatherings with their immediate families.
I understand this, and I realize that if I’m around for a few more years, I may play the role of “Grandfather” at my own smaller family Thanksgiving.
But in the meantime, on Thursday, I will take my seat in a folding chair by the table in the church fellowship hall. I will stuff myself with turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce and casseroles, and I’ll try to save a little room for dessert of either pumpkin pie or coconut cake or boiled custard … or maybe all three! And I will say a quiet prayer of thanksgiving for all the Thanksgivings I have been blessed to share over the years with my family.