Family & Friends, Family Memories, Life Lessons, Thanksgiving, Traditions



Our Thanksgiving celebration was excellent. Although Gary and Bonnie and his boys couldn’t be with us (we have to share), we still had a houseful–nineteen hungry folks.

The Georgia Days

Brad, Terry, Caroline, Maria, Emily, and me

This group drove most of Tuesday to be with us. They spent Wednesday helping me cook, taking care of Brad’s mother’s estate business, and shopping with a break for hamburgers with Gary and Josh at the Buffalo Grill.

Show Time

Maria and her crew helped make Thanksgiving Dinner happen from table preparation to clean up.

You may have heard my sighs of relief.

The North Little Rock Johnsons

Seated: Randi, Erika, Graham, Gayla. Standing, Christy & Jeff, me, Erik, and Terry

This crew joined us midday. They came bearing gifts of bread pudding, compliments of Jeff; a festive white cake; and the essential bags of ice.

Yum! Yum!

The Hillcrest Days

Spencer, Sierra, Bryan, behind me, and Betsy

Brad’s brother, Bryan, and his family swept in with Betsy’s not-your-run-of-the-mill-mashed potatoes, salad, apple cheesecake, and chocolate pie.

Smack! Smack!

The West Little Rock Rodgers

Cathy, Terry, me & Dudley

Cathy and Dudley, arrived with amazing smoked pork tenderloin and a fancy cherry strudel pie.

Oh my! Scrumptious!

I was thrilled to receive a beautiful hostess gift Cathy created. I took one of classes. Read about it here. at the Arkansas Art Center Museum School.

Isn’t this cashmere and silk scarf gorgeous?




We repeated our tradition of writing expressions of thanks on leaves to adorn a little Gratitude Tree.

Erika, Randi, & Graham, making Gran happy

Serious Eating

By the time everyone was assembled, the turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, and two pies–apple and pumpkin–were ready. Four pans of Sister Schubert rolls were in the oven. Our kitchen island fairly groaned under the weight of everyone’s culinary masterpieces.

After a blessing, we dined like royalty, laughing and gabbing through another memorable Thanksgiving dinner.


Afterwards, those wonderful girls: Betsy, Gayla, and Maria cleaned up. I helped as much as they would allow, which was very little.

“Go put your feet up,” they said.

I tell you, their mothers trained them well.

Later, we spilled out onto the porch and lawn for photo ops.

When everyone headed home, Maria’s gang hit the stores again. Terry and I threw up our feet and rested.

What a wonderful day!

I wish you could have been here with us.

Wherever you spent the day, I hope you felt as blessed as I did.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.  Ps. 136:1 ESV

Family, Memories of Home, Traditions


My mother, Winnie Latimer

For most of us, the holidays are enriched by family traditions sometimes established by someone who’s no longer with us. But a custom doesn’t magically pass from one generation to another. Instead, it endures when someone younger embraces it and shares it with those they love.

For my daughter and me, one such tradition is preparing my mother’s cornbread dressing during the holidays. No turkey is complete without Grandma’s dressing.

Terry, Maria and me with Mom and Dad, back when
we were getting our first lessons in dressing making.

The last time Maria and I made this holiday staple, I realized the conversation surrounding its preparation had become a tradition in itself. Each year, if you joined us in the kitchen, you’d hear a variation of the following:

             “Why are you making biscuits in the middle of morning?” Maria asks, as she sautés onions and celery in butter.

            “For the dressing. Grandma always added a couple of biscuits and rolls to the cornbread.”

            Later, I crumble the rolls, biscuits and cornbread into my biggest bowl and ask, “Did Grandma put eggs in her dressing?”

            “You always ask that, but I don’t think she did.”

            “I’ll leave them out.”

            In obedience to Mother’s voice in my head, I pour a generous amount of broth into the bread mixture and say aloud, “Make it sloppy so it won’t dry out.”

Then I cautiously add salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and sage, frequently stopping to taste. It’s easier to add more than to deal with too much.

            “Needs more poultry seasoning.” I sprinkle and sample again. “Is this about right?”

            “I’m leaving that up to you,” Maria says.

In this manner, I season and taste my way to a dish as closely resembling Mother’s dressing as possible. And in the process, she is with us in the kitchen, encouraging us as always with the thought that whatever the outcome, it will be just right.

Somewhere in what I hope will be the distant future, I hear a similar conversation going on between Maria and her girls. After all, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving and Christmas without Grandma’s Cornbread Dressing.

Maria and her girls, Caroline and Emily