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Thanksgiving -- it's a time for families and friends to gather and reflect on the things for which to be thankful. It typically gives rise to sentimentality and memories of Thanksgivings gone by.

I think of Thanksgivings when I was a child and the traditional meals served at Grandmother's and Granddaddy's -- turkey and cornbread dressing, ham and sweet potatoes, pecan, coconut, sweet potato and pumpkin pies, ambrosia, pralines, divinity and fudge.

I clearly remember when I was in college, and going through a phase in which I decreased sugar and salt consumption, that I attempted to make Grandmother's ambrosia, which is a layering of very thinly sliced oranges, coconut and sugar. I decreased the amount of sugar, attempting to be healthy. My good intentions did not result in a tasty treat. And, I was reminded by Grandmother later that enough sugar must be used to combine with the juices from the oranges to make a syrup to bind the ingredients.

As the family grew, there was a children's table at one end of the den just off the formal dining room as there wasn't enough room at the dining room table. But, we were only a few feet away and did not feel isolated from the group.

As my brothers and I grew up, married, had families, Thanksgiving at our grandparents' gave way to our own families' traditions and times at the in-laws. We took turns sharing where we went.

We moved away from Louisiana and experienced different traditions and learned to adapt.

Now, we are the grandparents and learning to share our children and grandchildren.

Many of the food traditions have continued. Some new items have been added and some have been deleted.

One thing remains the same -- we gather together to give thanks.

There have been sorrows, sometimes tragedies, certainly life changes, but we try to focus on the blessings and realize as we age that some things that appeared to be negative often resulted in positive changes. We're thankful for one another, for health and homes and jobs. We're thankful for friends and the freedoms we enjoy living in America.

For my family, we have been alternating the gathering of Thanksgiving and Christmas days with the in-laws and all of my children and their spouses have been very gracious to accommodate so that everyone is on the same schedule. So, if we have Thanksgiving, we don't have Christmas. But, we still gather for Christmas, just not on Christmas day. The next year, we'll host Christmas day and not Thanksgiving.

And, I've learned, sometimes with difficulty, to relinquish "control" as I've begun sharing the meal preparation. My daughters (and sons-in-law) are good cooks and I'm grateful for their willingness to share the load as we prepare for 30 people.

Happy Thanksgiving!

•••

Editor's note: Annette Beard, managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years, is a native of Louisiana, who moved to northwest Arkansas in 1980 to work for the Benton County Daily Record. She has nine children, five sons-in-law, nine grandsons and three granddaughters. She can be reached at abeard@nwadg.com

Editorial on 11/27/2019

Print Headline: Thanksgiving traditions continue o'er the decades

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