Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Our Williamson Thanksgiving. 2011

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
It was a very Williamson Thanksgiving. Kinsfolk arrived from all parts of the big woods to celebrate the gathered harvest, meet the new offspring, compare aches and pains, enjoy Grandma's newest remedies from the still down by the draw, shoot up the neighbor's fence posts, reminisce about loved ones who've gone to Jesus and pray for those whom we are mighty sure haven't.

I had my secretary type formal invitations to Autumn and Derek's "A Thanksgiving With All the Trimmins" for those in the family who could read and who had access to the mail. Sometimes the mailman can't get to the dark side of the woods on account of treacherous mountain roads this time of year. Others in our extended family who find reading a challenge got a simple postcard (shown below) with Autumn's telephone number (Filmore 3-4710) written on the back. A picture of someone dialing a phone printed on the back of the post card was their clue to call the family Hot Line Answering Machine the next time they could get to a phone.

The day before Thanksgiving Uncle Brandon and Aunt Monica's oldest boy sharpened an axe and went out searching for the Tom Turkey. Cameron had been learned well by Brandon on the proper method of killin a Tom Turkey. He hid the weapon of Tom's demise behind his back until he was close enough to grab the bird and administer the fatal blows.

"The boy made us proud," Brandon said. "He done well."

"That boy is a credit to his upbringing and he's got book smarts. You should see him do his ciphers," Monica added as she plucked the bird and admired her son as he stood near the pantry counting cans.

Some members of the family arrived by train. Forrest learned to drive a few years back and got to use the pick up and go down to the station to fetch them to Autumn and Derek's. We passed the hat during the meal and collected enough money to help cover the gas. Forrest was appreciative.

Autumn was a bit ruffled tryin to get the cabin ready for company and all. Derek pondered her problem and wouldn't you know, conjured up a solution within half an hour. He went and fetched the neighbor's two eldest and paid them both a nickel to help get the washing and iron done. Autumn was appreciative.

"If a man can't spare a dime to lighten his wife's load then he ain't much of a man," Derek boasted during the meal when Grandma Luella landed on the fact that the table clothes were so nicely pressed.

Knowing the Clan would be gathering at their home, Derek and Autumn decided to upgrade their facilities. The days of running outside to take care of your business were over.

The former Turley facilities before the upgrade.

The new facilities

"Gettin use to the smell is the hardest thing about having yer facilities inside the house," Derek confessed. Autumn makes me hang a red sock on a nail she drove into the bathroom door whenever I use the facilities. I'm suppose to take it down in 30 minutes but keep forgettin."

Derek pulled me aside before everyone arrived.

"You've had one of these for awhile, right?" he asked.

"Nearly twenty years," I answered.

"Ya think this plummin will be up to the load?" He looked worried.

"Our kin don't know about yer new facilities," I reminded him. "They know that if they have to go they'll be usin the outhouse. They'll be sure to go before they leave."

"Yer right. I rarely use someone else's. My ma says I'm bladder shy," Derek confessed.

"Yer ma is a smart woman."

"That she is. That she is."

Uncle Steve and Aunt Janice were the first to arrive at Autumn and Derek's. There is one thing you can be sure of - Steve and Janice are always the first to arrive when a meal is in the offering.

Their eldest Nicole and her husband stayed with Autumn and Derek. Janice and Steve have seven daughters. A few are married off. The others are either too young or ain't interested at the moment.

"We keep makin matches but them girls ain't bitin," Steve said while bouncing his new baby grandson on his knee. We're pondering offering a dowry to move the older ones along. Anything that will take a few plates off the dinner table will help Janice. She's been feelin mighty poorly lately." Janice looked confused, pulled on Steve's sleeve and pointed to the room we sat in.

"I done told you we are at Autumn and Derek's house, now don't make me have ta tell ya again. It's an embarrassment," he said as he checked to see if the boy's diaper was soiled.

"I done got me a sword," Ammon showed off his glow in the dark sword. I realized at once it was no sword at all. I could tell by the shape of the handle. It was one of them Tridents you see the Greek Gods carrin around.

"Ammon, don't you know you ain't got no sword. That there is a Tri-dent. I'm figuring ya kill fish with it." I demonstrated by stabbing he boy with it in the shoulder. He still looked confused.

I noticed his ma was standing nearby. "Ashley, ain't you learned this boy of your's nothin?" Ashley shrugged her shoulders wondering what I was on about.

"What don't he know?" she asked.

"He don't know what a Tri-dent is."

"Oh Lord give me strength, I don't even know what a Tri-dent is," she answered. "How is knowin that gonna put food on the table?"

Little London was so proud of her new Calico dress and was showing it off to everyone as they arrived. She was also happy because her Uncle Steve had just bought her a bag of Starbusts.

Later in the afternoon London nearly got a wippin with a willow switch for messin around in the dirt in her new Calico dress. Autumn explained to her that Calico wasn't cheap.

"My momma would have locked me in the root cellar for a week If I had gone and done what you did when I was little," Autumn explained. London wasn't bothered. She knew they didn't have a root cellar. Autumn thought for a moment. In the corner of the yard sat the two maiden aunts Dorkis and Della Williamson. They despise children, finding them a burden on patience and entirely untrustworthy in the bathroom.

"Look yonder," Autumn said pointing to Aunts Dorkis and Della. "You get your nice Sunday Meetin' dress dirty again and I'm sending you to live with Aunt Dorkis and Della!"

London sobbed uncontrollably.

"Can't you quiet that child?" Dorkis demanded with a scowl while pulling her scented handkerchief up to her nose as if the very sound of London's crying soured the air.

Della nodded. "Monstrous children. Oh and when you're finished with her, come and get this one." Della pointed to the animal pen in the far corner of the yard.

Autumn looked over and saw young Enoch peering out through the bars.

"He used my dress as a depository for his nasal drippings," Della explained. The crow squawked. "No No Abner. Leave the boy be."


"How many more of the young ins' have you got locked up?" Autumn asked.

"Well, there's that one over there," Dorkis pointed toward the clothes line to the side of the cabin. "There is no redemption for the parents that produced that monstrosity."

"Yes sister, the spawn of Satan."

Autumn unpinned young cousin Ned, took him to the well and washed both he and London from head to toe. Dorkis and Della watched with satisfaction as young Foxton emerged from the cabin on the hunt for adventure.

"Squawk," questioned Abner.

"Yes, Abner. This one, but remember, spare the eyes."

The Fortesque Family live Next door to Autumn and Derek. Notice their curtains are drawn. This is the side of their home facing the Turley's. The children are forbidden to play on that side of the house.

Both the Fortesques and the The Williamson's (in all their variations) enjoyed a well cooked meal at 3:30 P.M. While the adults sat in the great room......

........the children had their own room. Wait, where are the children?

Little Martha was upstairs in London's room. She and London disagree over who can play with who's dolls every time the family gathers. Martha was determined to put an end to it once and for all.

Cousin Hank was released from county supervised care to enjoy Thanksgiving with the family. He quietly escaped the child's room and was found in the garage looking for spiders. It's good to see his eyebrows are growing back from his last altercation with a Daddy Long Leg.

Little Enoch was still in the pen. Out of sight and out of mind. He wasn't too bothered. He knew there would be sweet potatoes lurking on his plate and he hated sweet potatoes.

Young cousin Wilbur was found having a conversation with a new friend he'd just met at the end of the bedroom hallway.

"That boy is rude," he explained to his mother. "He won't let me get a word in edgewise."

London and Cannon escaped from the meal when no one was watching. London, fearful she would be adopted out to her two Great Aunts for messing up her new Calico dress, convinced cousin Cannon to take her far away. They jumped into the backyard "Imaginary All In One".

"Garbble, bubble Jibberish," Cannon said (Translation. "Fasten your seat belt. This get away might be a bit bumpy")

Cousin Eugenia, not one to miss a great meal, left the child's table to save a few of London's dolls from the clutches of Cousin Martha. Once the dolls were hidden, she returned to the table to enjoy what was left on her plate, and her cousin's plates as well. She is definitely a Williamson.

The rest of the cousins, nieces and nephews were outside watching Abner the crow have his way with young Foxton. It was a gruesome spectacle and a great diversion for Aunt's Dorkis and Della. It gave the adults extra time to visit in piece and quiet.

Grandma Kim enjoyed her meal, making sure not to leave a thing on her plate. Grandma Kim is the oldest child of Luella and Charles and the one with the most Grandchildren.

"Why they keep comin and comin," she replied when asked how many she had. "How's a Grandma suppose to keep up. My these candy yams are a true delight."

Between helpings, Grandma Kim let the food digest by doing Grandbaby lifts. Up goes one then up goes the other.

"Grandbaby lifting is an excellent way to burn off those stuffing calories," she said breathlessly.

"Are they both yours?" I asked.

"J.D. Darling. Are these two ours?" Grandpa J.D. shrugged his shoulders, hesitant to step away from the serving table and have a look, having been given strict instructions by Grandma Kim to be seen and not heard.

Not to be outdone. Grandma Janice kept looking over at the serving table to see how often Kim returned for second and third helpings. She matched every helping and then some. Occasionally she leaned over to her husband to whisper. And every time he responded the same way, "Autumn and Derek's."

Grandpa J.D. was allowed to eat in the serving area. Normally Kim makes him take his meals outside when the family gets together. J.D. didn't abuse the privilege. In fact, Kim was so impressed with his behavior she told him he might get to eat indoors at Christmas for the first time since 1988.

J.D. is awesome and the perfect companion for Grandma Kim.

Grandpa Steve wasn't a stranger in the kitchen. He jumped right in without being asked to contribute to the combined effort of feeding the 5000.

Great Aunt Esmeralda wasn't allowed anywhere near the table. Kim insisted she eat outdoors. She stood near the window and watched the festivities from outside. She is use to having her tea and smokes outside as is evident by her worn appearance. We all wish Aunt Lisa was there to keep her company. Lisa and Esmeralda are two peas in a pod and get along quite nicely.

Great Grandmother Luella was in excellent spirits. Crowds aren't a bother to this mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother as long as you turn a blind eye to the Pepsi can she keeps nearby.

"Grandma, What you got in that can of yours?" asked one of the sons in law. "You always got a can of something where ever you go."

"Just something to keep me regular." Her speech was slurred as she tapped her forefinger to the side of her nose.

Later in the evening we gathered all the grandkids together in the front room and arranged them in order of height.

"Grandma Luella. it's time honey," Grandma Kim escorted her mother to a nice comfortable chair in the front room. "Its time to name all your grandkids by memory. Start at the top and work your way down."

Every year at Thanksgiving, Luella's two eldest have Power of Attorney papers drawn up. T he papers are put away if she passes the Grandchild test. If not, we step in and start thinking for her. Luckily she passed giving us pause to celebrate. Great Grandmother is certified functional and aware of her surroundings.

"I thought for sure this was the year we had her," Grandma Kim confided to me. "Did you hear what she said to everyone that passed the serving table?" I nodded.

"Did you get a slice of that Honey Baked Ham? What do you think of that Honey baked ham? Wasn't that ham delicious? Did you know what I had to spend on that Honey Baked Ham? It was $60.00. Imagine that!"

I agreed. Luella was a bit 'over the top' about the ham.

"I didn't year you bragging about the brand name cranberries you brought." Kim remembered.

"I'm not one to boast about sacrifice," I said humbly.

Pictures were mandatory before everyone left for home.

Kai, Aspen and Cannon

Enoch, Jace and Foxton

Alivia and Stevie

Jordan and Baby #623-67-7706. The baby had yet to be churched blessed and given a name so we knew it only by its number. The baby blessing was conducted later in the evening in the Turley living room where the name of Kellen Scott Tolley was given to the joy of all gathered.

Amber with new niece Naomi

Brock sees his wife googling over her new infant neice. Yes, that is a worried look on his face.

And finally brothers (yes they are brothers so don't read anything else into this picture) Brock and Chaz Bodily with cousin Lydia.

At the end of the day, we had a nice neighborhood send off as our families left Autumn and Derek's for home. It was a great Thanksgiving. Here's hoping yours was as as forgiving.