Thanksgiving memories that last a lifetime

Published 5:48 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Memories are some of the most precious and priceless things we have. The deep emotions that memories can stir within us is something to be revered. To recall these treasure troves of moments is often the reason why we’re motivated in continuing the reenactment of generational traditions, such as Thanksgiving. With this wonderful holiday upon us, community members reminisce on their favorite Thanksgiving memories and family traditions.   

Stacey Edwards shared a humorous memory that could have very well been featured on one of America’s Funniest Videos montage scenes if it had been caught on video. 

“My mom always has games for us to play outside after the big meal,” Edwards said. “One year, she had the bright idea to sled with cardboard on pine straw. Of course my husband Chad was the first to fully commit, and almost died with a concussion. Apparently, the cardboard of today is waxy and doesn’t slide like Mama remembered.”

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Linda Daughtry reminisced about her favorite Thanksgiving surprise from last year. 

“My favorite memory actually happened last year when we were all posing for my annual Auburn jersey picture with my four little grandsons,” Daughtry said. “We’ve done this since they were babies. All of a sudden, my daughter who is 40 ran up and threw me a tiny little cheerleader uniform and said, ‘You better add this to your Auburn jersey picture!’ I went berserk! We were having a baby girl! I had no idea she was even pregnant. So this year when I have my annual Auburn jersey boy photo at Thanksgiving, I will have a little six-month old cheerleader sitting on my lap.”

Sonya Rice describes the intricate scents and moments that are still fresh in her heart and memory from her childhood years. 

“Thanksgiving was always a special day growing up for me,” Rice said. “Mother would start preparing cakes, pies and cookies the week prior, and the night before smells of turkey and dressing were heavy in the air. Mother insisted on being the only cook of the family and no one was allowed in her sacred space known as the kitchen. After an hour of filling our bellies and visiting with each other, the entire family laid across the furniture and on the floor, passed out. After a long afternoon hibernation, Mother insisted everyone grab a rake and head outdoors where we all worked off our lunch by raking the entire yard. Life was good.”

As it often takes many tries and failures when learning how to replicate our mother’s traditional recipes, Kimmie Plant recalls one of her first Thanksgiving experimental failures in the kitchen. 

“My favorite memory is being in the kitchen with my mom,” Plant said. “I never missed the opportunity to learn how to cook my favorite dishes, and some that were not my favorites. One year I asked if I could cook oatmeal cookies. I wanted to be like Mom who could cook without reading or measuring anything. Instead of oatmeal, I used cornmeal. Yes, cornmeal. For the most part, I did measure out the ingredients and they were not half bad. To hear my mom’s laughter was priceless.”

Reflecting on oysters and her Ma-Maw, Jennifer Coghlan shares a delicious Thanksgiving recipe she misses dearly. 

“My favorite memory is making oyster dressing with my Ma-Maw,” Coghlan said. “She would send me to get the best oysters from the Destin Connection in Montgomery. She would make the cornbread for the dressing and get everything ready in true Ma-Maw fashion. I would drop the oysters in and it would go into the oven and come out delicious. It was the best thing you would put in your mouth! I have not had any since she passed away. Maybe I will get up the courage to make it by myself next year.”

Craig Waller’s Thanksgiving tradition includes football and big meals. 

“Macy’s Parade, football games on TV and stuffing ourselves with all the food we can eat,” Waller said. “Normally we eat big, then everyone catches a nap and returns to the food for round two.”

Pastor John Girdley described having a large family to gather with as a true blessing. 

“The best Thanksgiving memories for me center around spending time with family,” Girdley said. “One of the most memorable was renting a home to fit our large family gathering. You know you’re blessed when your home is not big enough for all of the family coming home. We’re older now and much more scattered, but it’s a great memory.”

Banana pudding stands out in Ann Judah’s treasured memories. 

My favorite memory is the warm feeling I remember of all of us being around the table talking and laughing so long that we all had to have another helping of my Momma’s banana pudding,” Judah said. 

Katie Till’s family kicked off Christmas at her family’s Thanksgiving. 

“I love getting together with my dad’s extended family every year and playing white elephant,” Till said.

A. Steele Perdue said the holiday is about connecting for her.

“My favorite Thanksgiving traditions are prepping, cooking, baking pies and cakes and eating with family and close friends,” Perdue said. “It’s also a great time to gather and see loved ones you haven’t seen in years. Thanksgiving is a time to reconnect, show gratitude, share a meal and reflect on all the things we’re grateful for.”

This year, may you hold these precious moments unfolding close to your heart, and remember them always.