Our nation is hurting. We could not have anticipated the tumultuous events experienced in 2020. A pandemic which killed a lot of people, shut down our economy, and turned our lives upside down. America now has more unemployed people than it did during the Great Depression. Many Americans remain unemployed. America is dealing with social unrest, protests, and anarchy.

Our hearts ache for those who have suffered unimaginably horrific losses this year. We pray for those whom I mentioned, and we pray for first responders, healthcare workers, law enforcement personnel and their families.

Thanksgiving in 1937 Alabama

Although our nation has been through a trying time this year, it is not the first time. The Great Depression was an exceedingly challenging time in our nation’s history. Even in those days, Americans were aware of things for which they were thankful.

Celestine Sibley wrote for the Atlanta Constitution from 1941 to 1999.

She grew up in Northeast Alabama where her father worked in a sawmill. In the middle of the Great Depression he had a job. This family, in the midst of this exceedingly difficult time, maintained a spirit of thankfulness.

In 1937, Celestine’s mother, whom she called “Muv,” was happily making preparations for Thanksgiving. Some relatives from Virginia sent the family a basket of apples. Polished to a high sheen, those apples were put on the table for a centerpiece.

The family’s Thanksgiving feast that year was Vienna sausage dumplings. You read that right. The family’s 1937 Thanksgiving feast was Vienna sausage dumplings. Celestine remarked, “If you’ve ever bought Vienna sausage in a sawmill store for 7 cents a can, you will doubtless know the value in that.”

Celestine and her family prized the apples received from the Virginia relatives. They appreciated the dumplings. The family was very thankful.

It’s about being together

Every year we went to my Grandma Griffin’s house for Thanksgiving. Mama, Grandma and my aunts were in the kitchen getting everything ready for our Thanksgiving dinner. Meanwhile, the cousins all went to the backyard for a fast-moving game of touch football. Daddy and my uncles enjoyed watching football together.

The table in Grandma’s kitchen was a large dining room table that had belonged to her father, the late Jacob LaFayette Morris. When it was time to eat, we all took a seat at that table in Grandma’s kitchen. We bowed our heads, closed our eyes, and then my uncle, the late John Sheffield, said the blessing.

Keenly aware that there would probably never be a time in my life when I had nowhere to go, or family to be with, I felt so loved and was particularly thankful for my family. Thanksgiving, for our family, was about being together.

You cannot keep Americans down

My family’s tradition, these days, is Thanksgiving brunch in Atlanta with the grandchildren. They visit their other grandparents, in Lawrenceville, later in the day. We enjoy our celebrations.

In spite of what Americans have experienced in 2020, Americans are not going to give up being with their families at Thanksgiving. You cannot keep Americans down.

Exceedingly proud of my family

I raised my children to know what they believe and why. They are skilled at arguing intelligently. My children listen and, when it is their turn to talk, they calmly defend their beliefs.

Some of my children and I agree on our politics but others do not. Nevertheless, our family discusses politics. We ask the tough questions and have conversations about it all. We are kind to each other. We listen to each other, which is precisely why we do not yell and scream at each other.

I am very proud of my family because of their willingness to have great conversations. I imagine we’ll have some lively discussions at Thanksgiving brunch but it will be fun. We love each other and won’t be screaming and yelling at each other.

We need this time

Gathering your family, probably at Grandma’s house, and giving thanks for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of some really great food is what many of you are doing today. Y’all are probably celebrating a good old Southern Thanksgiving. That means your dessert will be pecan pie.

Thanksgiving is not only about all the great food. Thanksgiving is about being together. We need our families and we need this time together. Indeed. We need Thanksgiving more than ever. Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal, a writer, an avid cyclist, history enthusiast, and an ardent reader of Southern fiction. She is the author of “People, Places, and Memories of Rome.” Readers may email her at pamterrellwalker@gmail.com.

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