As fall continues the anticipation grows for the coming holidays and with those, comes lots and lots of food. Now copious amounts of food around the holidays is not simply a southern tradition it is a tradition that encompasses this nation. From Turkeys with stuffing in the north, corn fritters in the mid-west and fried turkey and cornbread dressing in the south. Each of these meals is always accompanied by plenty of fixins. Most families always put together a feast that could feed an army and our family was no different. The first of these feasts happened on Thanksgiving and most start eating less before Halloween so as to gorge themselves on that wonderful day.
I hold fond memories of Thanksgiving when I was young. Some of my first memories of Thanksgiving day was the families annual trip to Lake Hartwell and a weekend in the cabins. My parents would pick us up early from school and the trip would begin. One of the nights would always include a bonfire on the shore of the lake, ghost stories and my Uncle Allen trying to sneak up on us and scare all the kids. Later in the night there would be paper football on the bar in the cabin. Then we started having Thanksgiving at my mamaw and papaws house in Stockbridge and again all the family would come together not to just eat but to fellowship the entire day. We would eat and watch a football game and then the cousins would go outside and play football or if the weather would not permit it then we would play in the hallway of their house. You should remember we were all a lot smaller and would play football anywhere.
My mamaw, my mother and aunts would gather in the kitchen making those joyful delights that only southern women could prepare. The turkey and ham would be roasted to perfection. The yams cooked with marshmallows and pecans almost like a desert and the dressing like only Pauline Cannon could make. You knew when you walked into the house that soon you would step into food heaven and you would never have to leave simply because those memories would last forever. One memory that will never leave me is the pies, I will take those to the grave.
You see my maw maw was a special kind of grandmother. She always believed in taking care of her children and as much so with her grandchildren. During this time, I had five older cousins and an older sister and it didn’t matter what the occasion, we were spoiled by this genteel southern lady. She made sure that each one of us went to church, Sunday school and vacation bible school. If one child had a birthday then the other siblings got a small gift also and she gave us a gift every time the holidays came around. Maw maw made the best lemon meringue pie in Georgia and there would always be an argument about the pies among the older grandkids, so she came up with a solution. The night before Thanksgiving she would make 7 of these pies, one for each of us and then one or two for the rest of the family. We would sit around the livingroom enjoying our own pie. As I got older those family gatherings became few and far between, because like all things these days life became more complicated and the rush over took us and before we knew it she was gone. Maw maw succumbed to the horrors of Alzheimer’s. She did leave each of use with one final gift, the recipe to that wonderful pie that we all loved so much.
This year I was able to give that gift to my daughter and I can only pray that she passes it on to her children so that the love my maw maw had for us continues to fill the world. Thank you, Maw maw, for those great memories and the love you instilled in each of us.
Mike Cannon - Contributing author
A southern boy, born and bred. He was born in Atlanta Georgia, and has lived in some part of the state all his life. He currently resides in Ringgold Georgia which is a bedroom community to Chattanooga Tennessee. Growing up in the south has given him a unique prospective of the culture and tremendous knowledge of the food that the southeastern United States is so proud of. He enjoys watching the Braves in the summer, the Bulldogs in the fall, and NASCAR in the late winter. He is an avid hunter and fisher. He loves a good party and once you get to know him you have a friend for life. Mike will be a regular columnist on our site, sharing stories about his life in the south, it will be up to you to determine which of these are true and which are simply tales.