2017-06-28 / Editorials

Don Lively

A SOUTHERN AMERICAN FAMILY

He never swore allegiance to America, as far as I know.

I'm talking about my oldest known ancestor.

My family has been in this part of the world, the place I call the Blessed South, for close to three centuries. Some of the very land that is still occupied and owned by my extended family around these parts, has been in the family since shortly after that first forebear came to this continent. The family, if the historic documentation is accurate, has always been patriotic and loyal. Many have served in the military, others in elected offices or as local law enforcement officers helping to protect their communities.

Still, the oldest one, the man who we believe was the first of our line to set foot on this side of the Atlantic, never became an American citizen.

Anybody care to guess why old Abram never pledged his commitment to the country he lived in?

It's a trick question.

Abram never swore allegiance to America because he was here decades before America was founded on July 4th, 1776.

Yes friends, my family has been on these shores since long before America was America.

We believe that Abram came here from Scotland, which, if you've ever met any real Scots with their ruddy skin and quick tempers, explains a lot, even many generations later.

It's not by coincidence that my more modern family decided, over 80 years ago, to hold our annual family reunion on the Fourth of July.

You won't find a more fiercely patriotic, more country loving family than mine.

That's not to say that if you are around some of us for very long you won't hear plenty of cussing and discussing the politics of the day. I've heard it since I was knee high to a pissant. I continued to hear it all throughout my life. In recent years, I've been part of the ranting and raving.

But, it's not the country catching Hades from my kin.

It's the government that, in the opinions of many of my clan, has tried to destroy much of what is good about America from both sides of the political aisle.

It was disdain for oppressive governments that convinced thousands of folks to leave the islands of their homelands and make their way "over here".

Abram, and many like him, were just looking to be left alone.

To be free.

This week my large, eccentric, far-flung family will begin to gather right here in our neck of the woods. Most every local home that's occupied by kinfolk will welcome out-of-towners and for that one day in early July our little country community will nearly double in population. There will be small get-togethers such as baby showers, belated birthday celebrations, welcome-to-the-family fetes and even one high energy barn dance.

Our family reunion takes up most of a week.

But the big day that's referred to in my family as, simply, The Fourth, will take place on America's Independence Day.

Well over 200 of my crazy kin will converge at The Pond, the same site where the reunion has been held my whole life. There will be so much food that it could have fed Patton's army for a week. Several platters of fried chicken and baked ham. Dozens of bowls of vegetables, and pans of casseroles. Baked beans of every description. Deviled eggs by the hundreds.

And two pigs, roasted to perfection for the twelve hours leading up to the feast.

The pork will be accompanied by gallons of barbecue sauce that's still made from Daddy's not so secret recipe many years after he left us.

And, the deserts.

The sweet treats will be so numerous that they will require a table just for them.

But, there will be no eating until a couple of traditions are met.

To summon the folks, somebody will blow the conch shell, believed to be the very same one that my great Granddaddy brought back from the shore near Savannah many years ago.

Somebody else, usually one of the preachers in the family, will be asked to say the blessing.

Only after a proper prayer can the gluttony commence.

After dinner there will be a meeting to take care of family business.

Pledges to the flags, America's and Georgia's.

Patriotic and Christian songs will be sung.

Family stories will be retold.

There will be hugs and tears and laughter and perhaps even a bit of raving at the government.

There will be a reuniting of a family.

There will be freedom.

God Bless America.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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