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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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The Tradition....

The Tradition

Once again itís a holiday weekend and once again itís time for our family reunion. The tradition goes way back and seems to continue on year after year. When I was a child, my mother and all her siblings gathered in the summer at my grandmotherís house. It is a large family and they all tried to come at about the same time to see each other.

Finally, there were too many grandchildren to all fit into grandmotherís house, so the gathering was moved to a park where it continued for many more years. Eventually my grandmother and grandfather passed away, the children grew old, and the grandchildren became parents, but the tradition continued. The only difference was that the old people didnít like sun and bugs and moved the gathering to a recreation hall.

It has always been a potluck dinner, with each family bringing enough to feed themselves and the rest of the entire group. It is up to the ones that live in the area to bring the "homemade" food. Those that have to travel a long way and stay in a motel buy the buckets of chicken, potato chips and soft drinks.

Since Iím one of the cooking members, the problem I have is always what to take. It doesnít have to be fancy; it simply has to be good. Heaven forbid that you should show up with a dish not as tasty as every one elseís. It would be mortifying! Of course, some things are not to be improved upon, for example, my auntís coconut cream, melt in your mouth pies. There is no need to even try to top that.

I recall the terrible year that I tried to make a cherry cobbler that was a flop. I usually make delicious cherry cobbler, but for some reason, undoubtedly just to embarrass me, it turned into water. I shudder to remember. Oh, the shame of bringing a dish not up to family standards. I really have to fix something good to try and make up for this disaster.

Every lady tries to outdo everyone else in the cooking department, bringing their best culinary delights. The table is so laden with food the legs bulge and can hardly hold it all Ė and thatís after everyone eats. We donít know how it happens, but somehow the food multiplies and there is more left over that there was when we started.

Someone always brings southern pork barbecue so I usually make beef barbecue for my main dish. This sort of balances things for those with hardening of the arteries that have to forgo the traditional greasy, southern fare. Actually, there are a good many of us who need to give up the calories as well, as overeating is beginning to show on bellies and buns.

My daughter makes delicious lasagna that everyone seems to like. I might just let her do that and save myself some trouble. Casseroles are always good at a social dinner. That, along with a nice salad of some sort, and maybe a homemade banana pudding, if the dessert gremlins donít turn it into yet another disaster, should be a sufficient contribution.

Whatever I decide on, I am certain to have more food to bring back home than I took. Iíve never been able to figure out why we make so much food, but it seems to be as much a part of the tradition as the reunion itself.

For some unknown reason, there is a mysterious fear of someone not getting enough to eat. That has never happened yet. But maybe I should fix both the barbecue and the lasagna, just to be sure. Wouldnít want anyone going home hungry now, would we?

Copyright 2004 Sheila Moss

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