Severo Avila

Severo Avila is Features Editor at the Rome News-Tribune.

Leading up to the holidays, Julie had gone to the beach with her friends and someone posted a photo to Facebook of Julie and her friend on the beach. Julie was in the background making a funny face and contorting her body just to be ridiculous.

Someone saw the photo and commented “Sorry about your stroke, Julie.” Only, she didn’t have a stroke.

A very nice lady at church apparently saw the comment and believed Julie had indeed had a stroke and called a family friend about it. Rockmart being as small as it is, word got around that Julie had a stroke and people were obviously very concerned.

Finally it got back to the family and to Julie and she had to take to social media to make sure everyone knew she had not, in fact, suffered a stroke. Her husband jokingly asked her to wait a while in correcting people in case they wanted to drop off a few casseroles at the house to help the family out.

That was a little before Christmas.

As y’all know, sisters Kook and Neeve go back and forth hosting family gatherings now that we don’t go Pawpaw’s house in Esom Hill anymore on account if it not being in the best shape or big enough for everyone.

Well Kook hosted Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day breakfast. In the past, we’ve gotten a group text making sure everyone knows what they’re bringing and what we need and the exact time we’ll eat.

A week before Christmas I had sent out a text asking everyone what they’d bring. No one answered. I let it be.

Let me say here that Kook and Neeve and Julie are EXTREMELY busy taking care of mom and papa and their own families and work and everything else that goes along with the holidays. So it’s understandable that people might not have time to be answering my texts about food.

Finally, on the 23rd, I couldn’t stand it anymore (because I love a plan more than anything else) and I texted Kook and Neeve and Julie and Lindsey and asked if I needed to bring anything cause I had heard nothing about Christmas Eve. As the texts started coming in it was evident that there was a general plan for food but there were still some things that needed to be accounted for.

Lindsey and I went in on a large Honeybaked ham together last year so I said I’d pick it up again this year. Even though it was going to be Christmas Eve day. No one said anything contradictory so I was glad we had sorted it out and I knew exactly what I needed to bring.

So the next day, Christmas Eve, I went to Honeybaked Ham and stood in line with 100 other Rome residents and finally got our ham. I texted the family that because I had waited longer than expected I’d be a little late to dinner but they should start without me. And I joked that they had to wait on the ham since I had it in the car.

This was kook’s response:

“Zoodie brought some ham so if you don’t want to wait we can eat it for New Years.”

I had stood in line and stressed over getting this big dang ham at the last minute and racing to Rockmart to get it there in time for everyone to eat, only to find out Zoodie had already brought a ham and they didn’t need mine.

 But that was a minor annoyance compared to the wonderful meal we had over at Kook’s on Christmas eve and Christmas day. Kook’s house is always warm and welcoming and filled with laughter and dogs (and the braying of donkeys out in the pasture). Cousin Pam was there and she brought her delicious red velvet cake and more importantly she brought a big cooler of the good ice. Everything was delicious. I especially enjoyed Zoodie’s gravy and my favorite at any family gathering, Neeve’s hashbrown casserole.

Then Linsdey made an announcement to the family that she and Jody are expecting a little boy. We’re outgrowing the big table but that just means we’re making room for more people to love.

So it was a joyful Christmas. There are many things that happen throughout the year that can pull a family apart but there’s nothing like the holidays to bring us all together.

Neeve is hosting New Year’s Day festivities and thank the lord she sent out a group text message days in advance so we all know who’s coming and what we’re supposed to bring. I’m supposed to bring  “drinks” since I don’t cook. Kook is bringing the most important thing, the streak-o-lean (salt pork), while Neeve is making the black-eyed peas and the cabbage and red potatoes. Julie’s in charge of the collards which is essential because that’s what you eat to make sure you’ll have money in the coming year. There’ll be desserts and games and lots of laughter, I’m sure.

I will keep y’all posted in case anything unusual happens which is always a possibility with this crowd.

As we start another year, I am lucky to have wonderful readers like y’all who have welcomed my crazy family and I into your homes every Tuesday morning. So from Neeve and Kook, Julie, Freda, Traci, mom, papa, Zoodie, Cousin Pam and the entire Esom Hill/Rockmart/Cedartown crowd, I would like to wish you and the people you love a very happy new year.

P.S. I’m still tore up about that ham.

 Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune