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Day After Thanksgiving

searchSome people shop on Friday after Thanksgiving.   It’s their tradition. One year, I thought I should see what the hullabaloo of Black Friday was all about and went shopping. I vowed to never again set my foot inside a store on the biggest shopping day of the year. That day has held other traditions for me.

When I was growing up, that Friday was hog killing day. As a teacher, Dad had the day off and the temperature was right for handling fresh pork. By day’s end, pork chops, sausage, ribs, and roasts filled our freezer, and salted down ham and bacon slabs hung high from the barn rafters. That night’s supper was fried pork tenderloin, Mom’s Martha White biscuits (slathered with butter), and molasses.

In my young adult years, I started projects on Friday. I made Christmas gifts – cross-stitched samplers, jars of jelly, ceramic bowls. I even sewed a housecoat for Granny and a pantsuit for Mom. And I made both my children Christmas outfits: Daughter’s dress, Son’s vest. Seems the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was longer then.

When Husband and I moved our family to this house in the woods, Friday was the final fall cleanup-the-yard day. Husband spent all day and Daughter, Son, and I helped. We picked up sticks. We raked. We blew. We dragged huge mounds of leaves on top of a tarpaulin from our grassy yard to our leaf-covered woods. Yard work was finally finished until spring.

Then came the year when Husband and I hosted a pancake breakfast on the day after Thanksgiving. Daughter and her friends had scattered to colleges and jobs after high school graduation. From Texas to South Carolina, from Kentucky to Florida, these sixteen girlfriends separated, but remained close friends. In twos and threes, some attended the same university, but Daughter went alone to a Berry College and missed her friends.

When I heard that all were coming home for Thanksgiving, I thought of the mornings that these girls had eaten pancakes around our dining room table after slumber parties so I sent out an invitation. “Pancake Breakfast. 10:00 a.m. Friday after Thanksgiving at the Ray’s house.”  And they all came! They hugged. They laughed. They cried. They rejoiced to be together again. And they ate every pancake and slice of bacon put on the table. Some stayed an hour, some until mid-afternoon.

A tradition had begun. Once a year for ten years, our entrance hall banister was covered with car keys. Purses slung in corners. Shoes kicked off under the table. These young women giggled like teenagers walking the halls of Cookeville High School. Not all came every year, but at their request, I continued to flip pancakes. They talked about weddings, in-laws, jobs, moves, and babies – all good things that eventually brought this tradition to its end.

I don’t have plans for hog killing or sewing or yard cleanup or pancake breakfast this year. Husband will find the Hefty garbage bags filled with garland and I’ll find the red velvet bows and we’ll hang them across the front porch. I’ll set up the Christmas caroler family and the tabletop Christmas tree that’s decorated with shells. Christmas decorating will begin. But not too vigorously. Friday after Thanksgiving should be a restful day. And surely there’ll be a football game to watch.

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