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The Reason For Seasons
Turkeys Around The Table
by Maricia Mlynek

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Growing up, my family would travel to Middleport, Ohio, to visit Grandma and Grandpa Walburn, my dad’s parents. This was a big event. The Walburn side of the family is very large. Dad is one of eight. I don’t remember the dinner part of Thanksgiving at all. Strange, I know, but true. Actually, I think it wasn’t the turkey on the table, but all the turkeys around the table that made Thanksgiving so special. These turkeys, of course, were my family members.

The car trip was several hours. Those were the days before car DVD players. To entertain the crew, my parents would have us sing. One song that was necessary for the Thanksgiving trip was, of course, “Over the River and Through the Woods.” Dad would always lead. He also insisted we learn “Almost Heaven” to sing for Grandma, as she was a Mountaineer. This may have been my first West Virginia initiation.

When we arrived, we would take over the grandparents’ little home. Though they were a family of 10, the house was tiny. We were Walburns from wall to wall. Grandma was one of the greatest cooks in the land. I don’t remember a great deal about her as I was so little, but there are some things that I will never forget.

I remember her lap. She was a small lady with a very small lap. Yet, it was always big enough for two or three grandkids at a time. I remember her hair was always tied up in a bun, and she always wore a dress with an apron. Her refrigerator had a glass milk bottle that was filled with the best tasting water in the world. She was quick to tease and torment, and she had a contagious laugh that was filled with mischief.

Grandpa was quiet and always outside working. The first tree I ever climbed was one he had planted. He had bicycles for us to ride, and he never warned us not to wreck or ride on the road. He just opened the garage and gave us the freedom to go, and go we did. He always called me Sam P. Johnson Jittles and Jones, or Jones for short. I still don’t know why he did this, but I never asked either. When the time came to go home, he would help load the car and hand out money for the ride. Then he would do what I remember most about him, he would hug the guts out of us.

Several decades later, I don’t think of Thanksgiving as a meal time. I think of it as the time you spend with those you love. For my family, it was Grandma and Grandpa Walburn.

May your Thanksgiving be memorable, and may your table be surrounded by all the turkeys you love too. When it is time to part, make sure you have held the little ones on your lap--like Grandma always did, and don’t forget to do as Grandpa always did--hug the guts out of them. Happy Thanksgiving.


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