A Joyous Banquet

Opening the door, warm air hits my face, the aroma of Grandma’s fried, then baked, pork chops triggering my Pavlovian response. Served with fresh baked potatoes, sweet corn, relish platter and fruit cocktail, it was the traditional pre-opening day supper.

Pap had his Woolrich jacket airing out on the clothesline, his scoped Savage 99 is sitting in the garage corner. I always wondered why, until I tried finding a buck in my fogged scope one early opening day morning, years ago. Hunting on the family farm, four generations worth, I think back to Grandma’s Christmas parties.

During its heyday, there were over 60 of us in attendance. It was always at noon, as my uncles and cousins were dairy farmers. Several tables were lined up in the basement, forming a seating area long enough for 60+ people. The meal consisted of a huge roast turkey, ham and 30 lbs. of the fluffiest mashed potatoes imaginable, nary a lump anywhere. Combined with Grandma’s homemade stuffing and turkey gravy, it was nirvana.

Other family members brought side dishes, along with numerous desserts. Pap always said grace, and we dug in, family style, passing huge plates and bowls of home-cooked goodness. After the meal, the table was cleared, and everyone picked a couch or chair in the basement to catch-up, talk, joke, tease, and laugh.