Thanksgiving in the South

This year we made the 5 1/2 hour trek to the motherland where I grew up for Thanksgiving with the family, namely Mitchell County, in the Southwest corner of Georgia - a place where everything moves a bit slower and your choices for going out to eat are a bit slimmer. A place where when a car goes by, if you don't wave it raises suspicions.

My brother and his wife have a beautiful piece of land with a lake, two hogs, potbelly pigs, horses, miniature donkeys, goats, chickens and more chickens, six dogs, and I think the current count in 9 cats, a squirrel, and a rabbit. They both have a heart for animals and keep taking in the strays and giving them a loving home. It's the kind of place where you stoke a fire in the burn barrel and watch the stars come out while the frogs croak, the crickets chirp, and the fish splash in the dark.

We head down to a local restaurant of Thanksgiving dinner. When we arrive the parking lot is already packed with four wheel drive pickups and a line of gray haired people are waiting patiently on the porch to get in the door. Soon enough we get through the line at the counter to pay our way in and the buffet process begins. When everyone has piled up a plate, we sit down, give thanks and begin to eat. Halfway through the first plate, Mom arrives. We've come accustomed to her late arrivals and expect no less. She makes a plate and joins us at the table as some of the rest of the family begins work on plate number two or three.

At some point during the meal after repeating louder and louder to Dad, he says something about his hearing aids. Mom pipes up, "I lost one of my hearing aids. The other is in my purse." We laugh, but are not really surprised. If she has owned it. She has lost it a dozen times.

When everyone is sufficiently full, we head to the parking lot and load up the vehicles to return to the farm. We stop at the local Dollar General, because you can't waste a trip to town without stopping at Dollar General. On the way out of the store, I notice a old rusted go-kart sitting at the curb. It strikes me slightly odd, but I don't pay it much attention. I hear the store door open and a loud conversation. I turn to see two grown men walking out with two bags of items each. They crawl onto the single seat go-kart both of them hanging off both sides and ride off with their purchases. I grin. "Yup, We're in South Georgia alright", I say.

Coincidentally, this year my birthday has fallen on Thanksgiving day. Mom follows us back to the farm and presents a red velvet cake she has made for my birthday. She commandeers their kitchen to mix up the cream cheese icing and shortly we're enjoying a piece of cake. 

Friday we begin work on moving a shelter for the goats to a different pasture so they can begin cleaning up brush, blackberry vines, and poison ivy. We get the shelter unloaded and as my brother pulls away in the truck and trailer, I hear the big dual wheels fighting for traction. I turn to see the truck jump sideways in the Georgia clay and spin to a halt. His wife jumps on a four-wheeler and goes to get the Jeep. We begin digging out the log chains. After an hour or more of spinning tires, repositioning, and slinging mud, we free the big truck from its muddy grave and head for the house.

It's after 3pm and we haven't had lunch. We ride into town to discover four of the five restaurants are closed. Everyone must be Black Friday shopping at the Wal-Mart one town over. We finally settle on the one open establishment, the local pizza parlor. We practically have the place to ourselves eating pizza while being serenaded by Frank Sinatra music.

We return to the farm and begin trying to wrangle the three goats affectionately known as the Three Stooges to move them to their new pasture. But, they're having none of it. As darkness falls, we abandon the attempt and call it a day. My brother rubs the ears on the his 300 lb hog, Miss Piggy and she rolls over on her side to have her belly rubbed.

We have survived the typical family holiday drama, freed a stuck truck from the mud, and had a good time enjoying the quiet peacefulness of the rural countryside. It's been a good trip.

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