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Two Traditions


























 By Jene Hedden

 Throughout my lifetime, we have celebrated Thanksgiving with our relatives…either traveling to their houses or hosting them in our home. We enjoyed traditional meals of turkey or ham with all the trimmings. Depending on our family traditions and regional favorites, dinner might include sweet potato casserole, cornbread dressing, turkey gravy, dumplings, cranberry relish and of course the traditional southern dish of corn pudding followed by pumpkin or pecan pie and other favorite family desserts.     
         Our traditional Thanksgiving feast is important to us because we connect the dishes and flavors with fond memories. We remember those who have passed on when we serve their favorite dishes. The recipes are like family stories. We hear tales of how Grandmother saved enough sugar coupons to make a pumpkin pie during WWII or how her mother managed to prepare a grand Thanksgiving feast with a chicken and some vegetables out of the root cellar during the Great Depression.        
       Recently, I was reminded of another tradition from my past. I attended a memorial service at a local funeral home here in Shelbyville where I was asked to serve as a pallbearer for a childhood friend whose burial was to take place on Owenton.      
        Upon the completion of the formal service, the funeral procession departed down Main Street to head east toward KY 55. As we drove down Main Street, my car the sixth behind the funeral hearse, I caught the first reminder of a tradition almost as old as turkey and dressing as I observed a man standing along Main watching the passing motorcade with his baseball hat over his heart. This was the first of several sightings just like this along the motorcade’s route.     
      Once the procession passed the Christian Church, I noted another tradition I had not recalled in some time. Nearly every car we approached along our 40-mile journey was slowing and pulling to the curb as we passed going along in the opposite direction. One does not see this behavior (or should I say respect for the deceased) in large metropolitan areas, but in the countryside it remains a practiced tradition. Countless times this action was repeated in Shelby, Henry and Owen Counties.        
      Why do we hold on to traditions? I’m not sure. Maybe it is a way to link our past with the present. In the case of the funeral procession, perhaps paying our respect to the passing mourners is our way of also remembering those whom we’ve lost in our own lives. Perhaps it is our way of honoring life itself…even in its passing…and the promise of what lies beyond life on this earth.          
      Some traditions really don’t matter so much. Who cares what meat is served on Thanksgiving Day? I’ll have a slice of ham and some sweet potato casserole or a slice of turkey and some dumplings…either one is just fine, thank you very much! But, some traditions should be taken more seriously. Respect for the deceased and their surviving family is a good one to honor. I like that tradition. It is important. Let’s be sure to pass that one along to our future generations!   

   Happy Thanksgiving.