Thanksgiving and the Smokehouse!

Dean Adkins carving a roast turkey
Dean Adkins carving a roast turkey

Sometimes I think as Americans we all want the perfect holiday setting. I mean the Norman Rockwell kind in the photos, complete with the big turkey and all the trimmings with family all around. Yes, even those meals with the kid’s table, because the adults filled the big dining table. But in reality, life is not picture perfect. It is so much more.

Being from a family of four boys in the South, sports always had a place on our Thanksgiving day. Mom did the cooking and getting things ready for the big supper and all the activities that normally followed. Thanksgiving also meant the Christmas tree was going up after we ate. Thanksgiving was the start of our holiday season. It was tradition.


One year it was a bit different. As teenagers, life was all about being with friends and not being at home. Our Thanksgiving tradition was our community football game with all the kids in the neighborhood. As we stepped outside on that crisp Thursday morning, we all knew the game would end when our moms called out, “Dinner time!” The smells filled the neighborhood and we all talked about what our moms were cooking.

As our football game started, our neighbor down the hollar was smokin’ a few turkeys for families in the neighborhood. You could see the smoke from his smoke house and smell it as the wind whiffed by. There was lots of laughter and some yelling as the game was in full swing. Yes it was Cowboys and Indians…well kinda….more like the Dallas Cowboys vs the Washington Redskins. We were having a blast, when the smoke began rolling heavy. It was as if the wind was blowing down hard!

A few minutes passed and then everyone heard the yelling from the holler; the smoke house was on fire! With garden hoses, rakes and hoes, men stormed the old smoke house. In a flash the fire was out. The building was partially destroyed but the damage was done. The turkeys were a lost cause.

imageIt seemed like the whole neighborhood was in a down state of mind after that. We tried to start the game back but that did not work. Everyone went back to their homes feeling blue. But within the hour, the phones were ringing. I remember hearing the command: “Get me the cooler and bring me the boxes from the basement.” In a bit there was food being packed up, more ingredients to finish the meal were boxed and we were heading to the church fellowship hall.

Well we got there and the parking lot was full. All the guys in the neighborhood were there and before you knew it, we were playing football on the church lawn. Our mOn my way! were in the kitchen cooking up a storm. In an hour or so the call went out: “SUPPER TIME!” As we filtered into the fellowship hall, neighbors greeted one another once again. There were smiles, laughs and handshakes going round.

The preacher strolled up and a gentle hush settled around us. Preacher said, “We have a lot to be thankful for today. We’ve got family, food, friends and a loving God.” He went on to say, “The smoke house burned today, but it was just a house. What was in it was replaceable. I mean, look what’s here!” There were amen’s across the room.

I guess the preacher-man came out a little more as he said, “If you don’t know this loving God, today’s a good day to get to know him. He really cares. Just look what He did here in a matter of a few minutes.” I remember hearing more amen’s in the room.

Now, no one was saved that day that I know of. But what I do remember is people caring about one another. I remember people asking what could they do for one another. I remember there was more food than I could ever imagine. There was some singing, lots of laughter and just good people caring about their neighbors. I also remember people talked about that Thanksgiving for years. Why, when the smoke house was rebuilt, it was a community affair once again. Neighbors helping neighbors.

Thanksgiving Dinner by Jennifer Campbell
Thanksgiving Dinner by Jennifer Campbell

Yes even today I think fondly of that Thanksgiving; not for the food or even the smoke house burning. I think of it, knowing I have untold blessings too numerous to mention. Many are forgotten during the year. But this Thanksgiving I lift up thanks for the blessings of life so lovingly given. Blessings that are given to those who believe in more than just a day.

I believe when we live according to the Christian road map, our life is richer than we can comprehend or receive. Thanksgiving is more than one day of the year. It is a way of life for the Christian.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

By Charlie Griffin

Special to SGN Scoops

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