Like many of you, Thanksgiving holds a very special place in my heart and my belly.

It’s a time when, hopefully, you get to be with people you love and enjoy one of the most delicious meals of the year.

But there are a few dishes that really MAKE a holiday meal. For some it’s the turkey. For others it’s the ham. Some must have sweet potato casserole and others demand cranberry sauce in a can (this is me).

However, as the years have progressed I’ve come to realize that there’s one dish that means more to me than any other. And it may not be on most people’s holiday must-have menus.

Years and years ago (too many to keep track of) when I was first welcomed into a wonderful family out of Polk County by way of Esom Hill and Cedartown and Rockmart, I was introduced to Neeve Owen’s hashbrown casserole. Now many people enjoy hashbrown casseroles all year long. It’s not necessarily a holiday dish. But Neeve would always make it for our big family get-togethers, which usually took place during the holidays. And in the beginning that meant over at PawPaw’s house in Esom Hill.

And I suppose it was the combination of Neeve’s love, the entire family being together, and the deliciousness of that casserole that has cemented Neeve Lott Owen’s hashbrown casserole as my staple holiday dish.

Last Christmas she hosted the gathering and when I got around to eating, the hashbrown casserole dish was empty and scraped clean. I am not ashamed to admit that it brought a few tears to my eyes. It’s my favorite dish and I hadn’t gotten any.

As I stood at the counter staring at all the other delicious dishes but secretly heartbroken, Neeve came into the kitchen, saw my expression and immediately reassured me that she had made another hashbrown casserole that was waiting in the warmer.

That was when I realized how much that one dish means to me. That means family to me. It reminds me of good times and laughter. It reminds me of a little falling down house in Esom Hill with a hole in the floor right when you walked in but no one cared because we were all together and that’s what mattered.

This past weekend I was invited to a friend’s family Thanksgiving and when I asked Neeve if she would please make her famous hashbrown casserole for me to take as my contribution, she was happy to do it. So I got to share it with a whole ‘nother family — and they scraped that casserole dish clean just like my family does.

And let me tell you about last weekend’s Thanksgiving meal. It was the Kirby and Hubbard families of Rome and Cartersville and a very important question was raised as a result.

Who is responsible for the Thanksgiving gravy?

Now as most families do, they sent out a group message asking what everyone would bring. The four brothers — Trevor, Jason, Blake and Blaine — essentially made sure all the major dishes were covered. Jason would bring his fried turkey; Blake was hosting and he reluctantly had to buy and cook the ham; Trevor’s wife, Jeanie, would make two large pots of dressing; and Blaine had a list of things to bring including deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, creamed corn and the gravy.

Except that he didn’t bring the gravy.

Now let me say here that it was a DELICIOUS Thanksgiving meal and everyone ate their fill. But there was a small part of me that really missed that gravy. To make Blaine feel terrible I said it was the most un-Southern thing in the world to not have some good giblet gravy to pour over the dressing and the turkey.

As we argued over who’s fault it was, the question was raised. Who is ultimately responsible for the gravy?

First and foremost, Blaine was the one assigned gravy so obviously he dropped the ball. But was it even supposed to be his task in the first place?

Someone said since Trevor’s family brought the dressing, he should have made sure there was gravy since the gravy pairs most commonly with the dressing.

Another school of thought suggests that since Blake was the host he was ultimately responsible for making sure one of the most important components of the Thanksgiving meal wasn’t left out. He could have run out to Pick O Deli or Stanley’s to buy some good gravy as soon as he realized there was none in the house.

Surely Jason’s household was exempt since he was already providing an entire turkey and a sweet potato casserole and chess pies.

Or was it my fault? All I brought was a hashbrown casserole and Milo’s sweet tea. Should I have offered to bring gravy too, since I love it so much?

At whose feet do we lay the blame for the missing gravy? And yes it is an important question because if we do not learn from the past, then we are doomed to repeat it.

Traditionally in my family, Aunt Zoodie makes the gravy. It’s always simmering and bubbling in a pot, ready to be poured over dressing, turkey, cornbread or any other dish you’d like to pair it with.

With Thanksgiving just a couple days away, I caution readers to make sure that someone responsible is assigned gravy duty. It could make or break your Thanksgiving meal.

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


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