By the time I moved to the mountains, I had pretty much lost all of my family of origin. My Aunts, Uncles and cousins were still in Newport News and I was not so far that I could not come home for holidays, if I needed too. Often with work and not having a lot of time off, I learned to enjoy Thanksgiving away from the family. My family was always together for holidays and when most of the key players passed away, it left a big void in my life. I filled that void with my friends in the mountains. Spending Thanksgiving on the mountain became my tradition, and even after I moved from Rockbridge County, I would drive from Grottoes to North Mountain to share the day and meal with friends and strangers at Mira’s house.
On the drive from Rockingham County to Rockbridge, we got one station, I think out of Roanoke or Charlottesville, that always played Alice’s Restaurant … which we heard… in its entirety …every Thanksgiving, until hearing those first dulcet tones became part of the tradition too !
Driving up the driveway you could see the first signs of the gathering with folks on the porch waving or talking to one another and you knew already…it was never going to be the exact same group of people, though we all wandered through that house on North Mountain, touching one another’s lives in ways that would leave its imprint forever. We would gather on Thanksgiving Day, from all over the mountains, or other states, though most from Lexington. Arriving early, to help with cleaning, arriving late, because of things we had to take care of in our own homes… walking out of our cars to hugs and kisses from old friends and new, noticing one another’s children and how much they had grown … watching through the kitchen window as folks arrived and learned of the changes that had occurred for each of us since the last time together…sharing new knowledge or joys and as we stood in a circle of love and gave thanks for all that was right in the world…we had that moment in time, where we were all of one heart.