One Way To Spend Thanksgiving

Some of us this year are thankful not to be spending our holiday in the tobacco barn.

With Thanksgiving coming up this week, I cannot help but think back to my last two years’ Thanksgiving articles. I reminded everyone that we do have a lot to be thankful for. While this year has certainly been one to remember, for the wrong reasons, we can still find much to be thankful for.

I know that many of us felt the virus would be behind us by now and we would be settled into our normal holiday routines as in years past. But alas, that second (or third) wave as predicted has hit and seemingly worse than in the spring. We have had to reinvent everything else we do, so why not make the best of another bad situation?

I am certainly not making light of anyone who has lost loved ones. I have lost some friends myself. Our heart definitely goes out to them. It is my desire for us to all be safe, stay well and by all means, enjoy the season as best we can. As I said, we may have to change how we do things. Change is not always bad.

A change for me was going back to work after almost two years in my latest retirement. I’m thankful to have a job with a great company and with great people. It’s nice to look forward to getting up and going to work. I’m really thankful to have insurance again.

My coworkers and I were talking before going in to begin our shift one morning when someone mentioned the cold morning and the coming cold weather. I said, “You know, at least we work inside and not out in it.” A little something to be thankful for. Another said, “I’m glad I’m not out in a cold tobacco barn pulling tobacco all day. Still another added, “or milking cows.” Coincidentally, all of us had shared in these experiences.

When I was young, we spent every Thanksgiving in the tobacco barn. I hated it! It was nice to be out of school, but terrible to spend the holiday in the tobacco barn. It is funny now, but those are some of the experiences that are now some of my fondest memories. My parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, we were all out there pulling tobacco.

Those were some great times as stories were told and a song might be sung with the radio playing in the background. We even took the portable TV out there sometimes. If you got to paying more attention to the TV than which leaves you were pulling, off it went and back on came the radio.

WGRV would start reading Letters from Santa on the air about this time and we would listen intently. One of my cousins and I started writing letters to Santa so we could hear them on the radio. Not for ourselves, but parents, aunts, uncles, and especially cousins. We would go through the JC Penny toy catalogue and pick funny named toys such as a “Jumping Jimmy Trampoline.” We would double over laughing when they were read, and oddly enough none of the adults ever caught on. Of course, they wanted to know why we were acting so silly, laughing as we were.

Travel has been predicted to be way down this year so it is a good time to spend the day with close family. A good Thanksgiving idea might be one of sharing Thanksgiving memories with friends and family. If the kids don’t want to listen, just text them some stories. Maybe this year, in light of the seriousness of the virus situation, we should all turn off the electronics and get back to the basics. By that I mean sharing — sharing time with each other, sharing past experiences. Just enjoy the opportunity to be together.

Maybe it is a good time for family movies, games, and remember the puzzle? Sometimes going back to childhood memories and sharing those seemingly simpler times with family and friends can be fun. You know, the tobacco barn and the cow barn. I spent plenty of holidays in both.

Since we have certainly had to learn new ways of doing things this year, why not try some new family traditions such as taking a Thanksgiving Day hike? It is healthy in the beauty of the outdoors and you can carry along some nice healthy turkey subs to enjoy. You can stop along the way for a time of thanksgiving or maybe sharing what each is thankful for this year.

You could check out one of those 14-day free trials to and even go on a family scavenger hunt. After dinner have everyone search for their ancestors then go to the cemetery and see who can find their graves. Make it fun by offering neat and creative prizes. Everyone needs to know more about where they came from.

You know with restaurants struggling through COVID, why not save yourself some trouble and have your Thanksgiving dinner catered or pick it up? It saves you buying groceries and a lot of time cooking while it helps others in the community. Already prepared meals sure save Mom a lot of work and gives her something to be thankful for. It’ll get Dad some big time points too.

Oh yes, it is now legal to watch those Hallmark Christmas movies I like to poke fun at. I must admit, I watched one Sunday night and Hallmark hit the ball out of the park with me. “A Timeless Christmas” is now among my favorite Christmas movies. If you like Dickens, you will love this one. I can’t wait to see it again.

It is not their typical you know what is going to happen 15 minutes into the film type Hallmark movie. It’s the story of Charles Whitley, a turn of the century inventor who purchases a Christmas clock at an auction as a gift for his fiancé. The clock is broken and as he tinkers with it, the clocks sets him on a time travel journey to the year 2020 where he meets Megan Turner, a docent at a historic mansion which just happens to be his home.

The town of Cutter Spring’s great mystery is what happened to Whitley in 1903? He just vanished. The mansion from which he disappeared was given to the town for a museum. Whitley was orphaned at a young age and became a self-made millionaire. His forte was as an inventor. A man who looks and dresses exactly like Whitley crashes one of Turner’s tours. He wants to know what they are doing in his house? Turner assumes he’s an actor hired to play the part. After he proves to her that he is somehow the real Charles Whitley, Megan attempts to help him find his way back to 1903 but as the two work together, they each find they would rather leave the past in the past and look forward to a future — together. But wait! Watch until the final second — what happens? The Christmas moon is full and the clock … way to go Hallmark! Nothing but praise for this one. A must-see and a must-see-again for me. It airs again tomorrow night at 10 p.m. and on Christmas Day at 6:30 p.m.

While 2020 has been hell, let’s make the last of the year the best part. We have plenty to be thankful for, I do believe. We are alive and live in the greatest country on earth. We live among some of the finest people in creation. Make a list of all you have to be thankful for. Don’t forget our veterans.

I am closing with a warning not to forget we are in a pandemic. As one official says, “A safe Thanksgiving during a pandemic is possible, but health experts know their advice is as tough to swallow as dry turkey: Stay home. Don’t travel. If you must gather, do it outdoors.” Take my advice, spend time with close family, enjoy movies, some great food and a story time. It can still be a memorable Thanksgiving.

Experts also recommend wearing those masks and keeping the safe six feet distance where possible. While we can still gather around the table, we just may need a bigger table.

I think its time to write a letter to Santa. I wonder what Little Cameron Judd wants this year? Hmmm …

Reply from Cameron Judd: Tim, tell Santa that if the novel I’m planning to write in 2021 can appear complete, pre-written, pre-edited and perfect under my Christmas tree, along with an absurdly generous publishing contract ready to be signed, I’ll be content with that.

Greene County historian Tim Massey is an award-winning writer for Civil War News with more than 40 photos featured on various magazine covers. He has served on various boards and held positions in several historic organizations. He can be reached at

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