A good, ‘wore-out’ feeling

Published 4:36 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Raise your hands. Everybody who has ever been “wore-out.” Down here in the south, we are not “worn-out,” but “wore-out!”

Exhausted might not be good most of the time, but there are those times when that feeling is worth it. Like when a family reunion is happening. The late, vaudevillian comedian George Burns once said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family.” Then with great comedic timing, Burns pauses a little and adds “in another city.”

Our family is blessed. We live all around now, with one as far away as New Hampshire. My daughter lives in Syracuse, NY, and couldn’t make it to the reunion this year, but vows to make it next year for Papa’s 90th birthday.

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Our family reunion is traditionally held on the Sunday before Memorial Day and is centered on an old-style barbecue. It’s not old-style as in cooking on chicken wire tied to a rusty, metal bedframe and it’s not a hog that has been killed from the farm. We’ve progressed to a smoker on wheels and bought Boston Butts, but it is still great barbecue!

If possible, the family gathers at the home place on Friday to be ready to start cooking early Saturday morning. My brother and sister and their children come by plane and car and come in time and an expectation of a Friday evening meal of country-fried steak. Plus, there are peas, mashed potatoes, fried okra, sliced tomatoes, and tomato gravy. This year, Momma made biscuits, just like she used to. How many times have I eaten biscuits and tomato gravy and not much else?

Living in Bainbridge, Donna Sue, her mother, and I go over for Friday night dinner. It’s about a 40 minute drive and by the time we get home later that night, it’s time for bed.

I get up early Saturday morning and go by The Donut Shop to get a couple of dozen donuts to take over to the barbecuing crew. If I were to show up without the donuts, I’d be tarred and feathered.

My brother and I have ceded responsibility for all the hard work of barbecuing to our sons and daughters. That’s a good thing. They’re all young and full of vim and vigor. We sit around and, as the barbecue cooks, we lay on some sausage and let it cook. That’s breakfast. Linked sausage and “light” bread. Nothing more, nothing less.

There is a cooler that has been filled with all sorts of soft drinks: small cokes, orange, strawberry, and grape crushes, Pepsi, and other kinds. If I could find a bottled Royal Crown Cola (RC for short), that would be nice.

Saturday is full of catching up on what is going on in each other’s lives. This year we enjoyed a one and one-half year old baby boy named Luca for the first time and the discussion of an upcoming marriage for one of the nephews. It’s going to take place in Toronto and many of us are making plans to go.

My sister Kathy works the inside. She’s a natural boss if there has ever been one; one of the greatest multi-taskers of all time. It takes that sort of gift to put together all the ingredients for Brunswick stew and cornbread dressing. Plus, she makes a mean macaroni and cheese.

The entire weekend is full of cooking and eating. By the time Sunday arrives, the crowd gathers and we thank God and remember those who have passed during the year. We clean up after the meal and go home.

“Wore-out!” but, it’s a good feeling.