Thankful Thursday #9

I am so thankful for so many things everyday.

     Well, part of my title for my blog is sweet tea and I am very thankful for it.  I love all kinds.  Of course, being Southern, sweet tea is my favorite, but I also love my herbal hot teas.  I have different ones for different ailments.  I do believe each kind has health benefits, but the comfort of drinking any them is sometimes the best medicine.

My daughter likes all kinds too, but my younger son is really into the different kinds.  Like I said, sweet tea is definitely a Southern thing and is as readily available in the south as water.  For me, it's comfort because of the different memories that go along with it.

     We used to go to my great grandparents' house on Sundays when I was younger.  They lived across the street form the church and we would eat lunch and play until time to go back to church for Sunday night services.  This was my dad's mother's side.  My grandmother was one the leaders of the children's choir.  You can find nepotism in church also.  One year for our Christmas program, I sang a solo.  It was the second verse of Away In A Manger.  I was maybe 7-8? I remember it, but I still had one of those cute little kid voices and the fact that I can't sing AT ALL wasn't as apparent then.  I didn't get offered any solos when I got older. She probably didn't want me to embarrass myself, her, and the entire family.  My kids were Christened in that church and were 5th generation members.

     That side of family is really big.  I have a lot of cousins and their house was literally running over with family members. Everyone would bring something and we just had what looked like a holiday feast every Sunday.  There would be so much sweet tea.  I don't remember running out. My great grandparents raised four kids and had 10 grandchildren and when I was little, there were 6 great grandchildren.  Now, there are a lot more great and great great grandchildren.  We always had so much fun.  We would use paper plates and plastic cups.  We always had red plastic cups before there were Red Solo cups.  I don't think that's what they were called then, but they were always red.  Raising four kids and their generation with the Great Depression, my great grandparents were very thrifty.

      It's funny because I didn't realize until I was older, but when I would go to the cabinet to get a plastic cup there were names of family members with a line through them.  I guess they had our names on them for that day and they would mark it out, wash the cups, and reuse them.  It was kind of interesting to get a cup and look to see who had used it last.  My Nanny could have invented the idea of names on the Coca Cola bottles!  It was smart, thrifty, and made the sweet tea even sweeter! I just remember running and playing in the yard and sitting on the front porch.

     For Thanksgiving and Christmas, we would go to my dad's mom's house and she was a great cook. She started making Arnold Palmers way before they were called that.  All the men on that side golf, so my dad probably knew about it and asked her to try making it.  It was so good and her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners wouldn't have been the same without tea and lemonade.  She also made homemade rolls that were just ridiculously good.  I have never had them like she made them.  She also made sweet potatoes and put them in empty orange halves and toasted marshmallows on top.

     She was divorced and lived alone and when I was a lot younger she had a smaller place that we would all pile into.  There would be 12 of us including her in a duplex.  It was next door to her sister's house.  She later moved into a bigger house, but my best memories come from that little place that was just so much fun!  My dad and uncles loved to tease her.  She worked as the secretary for our family business so she was with them everyday at work, then she would be at one of our houses at night.  My dad loves custard and one year she forgot to put sugar in it.  She made pies one time and left the paper filling on the frozen pie shells.  They would tease her, but she would give it back to them.  She loved life, was so sweet to everyone, and she just had fun with her kids and grandchildren.  I never worried about being an adult single woman because she made it look so fun.

     We have had an ongoing question and dilemma with the sweet tea at my grandmother Nana's house that has passed down to my mom's house.  She's my mom's mom and when we would all get together at her house with my great grandmother, great aunt, and cousin, we had two teas.  One was sweet with sugar and the other with sugar substitute.  I don't know why we always had to ask which pitcher was which, but we still do it at my mom's.  We have passed on the which tea is which down to 5 generations now!  My grandmother usually fixes the drinks when we all get together at my mom's and we have a pitcher of sweet and a pitcher of unsweetened.  My mom usually puts them in the same pitchers every time, but one of the kids always asks when they go for a refill.  The kids fight over who gets to take home the leftover sweet tea.  When one of them are sick or hurt, or have had a surgery she always takes them something they like to eat and a big gallon milk jug full of sweet tea.  Hers is so good!

     My memories at my Nana's and now at my mom's are of us women sitting at the table talking.  My great grandmother was an amazing lady.  All of the women in my family are strong, smart, and confident women.  My Nana has worked most of her life and done so many different things from real estate to having ceramic classes at her house to part owning a hair salon. Sitting at the table and talking you learn so much.  I think a lot of times miscommunication is at the root of family tension.  Listening and understanding the difference in generations makes such a difference in understanding why people think and believe in the things they do.  Older generations are so different than generations of today.  A lot of things have changed and you can't expect older generations to change their thinking any more than younger generations would or even could begin to change theirs.  It's a different world and there's a lot to learn from older generations.  Sitting at the table with generations of women is fun and keeps traditions going.  My great aunt has been a single mom for almost all of my cousin's life.  My cousin is a year older than me.  My aunt has put her daughter first in everything.  She never remarried or left her while she went out and did things a young woman she was at the time of her divorce could have gotten caught up in.  She's another example of a single mom I have had all my life but didn't really think about it at the time. I am really thankful for the strong women all through my family.

My mom is just the best.  She works so hard for us to have family time together and she always makes the holidays so much fun.  I love that my kids and nieces and nephews are growing up with memories like I have been so fortunate to have.

     We would also get together with my Papa's family and his mom and women from that side are amazing women as well.  I will post about them another time because that is a big side with A LOT of cousins! We recently had a family reunion on that side.
     I don't know who can resist a good glass of sweet tea.  To me, there's nothing better, but I think the memories I have that go along with it make it even sweeter.  If that's possible!


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