26 November 2006
This past week we headed up to the Carolinas to visit my extended family for the annual Bethea Thanksgiving Reunion. Although I went every year growing up, the last time I visited was the first year Chris and I were married (5 years ago)...it's been too long and we were excited to see everyone. It ended up to be a wonderful time of kicking back, sitting around the fire, eating, laughing, and exploring. Thanksgiving morning began with huddling around the heater and watching Macy's Parade on TV and then heading to my great-grandmother's old house for the big meal. We drove through miles of cotton fields and passed the old "Bethea Lumber Co." sign that I've seen so many times, and arrived at the home that was quickly filling with relatives.
There are always so many traditions that I look forward to, and it's funny how they take on even more meaning as I grow up. We walked to the old sawmill, rode 4-wheelers to the pig farm, shot rifles at Coke can targets, played frisbee in the massive front yard, rocked on the porch, and found many great photo-ops.
I think the last count I heard was between 80-100 people between Thanksgiving dinner and the barbeque on Saturday. I had to constantly go over names in my head to keep everyone straight - especially all the kids! 5 years is a long time to have missed, and so those who were in elementary school now look completely different, and I've never even seen all the kids under 5yrs old. Everywhere I turned, they seemed to multiply and I failed the quiz of "who do I belong to" ! :) We listened to Van Morrison, bluegrass, and gospel out on the lawn with Greg on guitar and Kelly on violin.
One of the main traditions is the food - a big Thanksgiving dinner with baked (and fried) turkeys and a "pig-pickin" barbeque on Saturday, complete with homemade brunswick stew made in a huge cauldron outside. We all warmed up by the fire barrel and the kids roasted marshmallows. Of course, being vegetarians posed a slight set-back for us, but we fared just fine. Least to say, our bodies were craving fresh salads and veggies when we got home!
On Friday evening at sunset, a group of us took a "field" trip (pun intended), out to the "Sweat Swamp" graveyard. Set in the middle of the woods, it dates back to 1796 when one of the first Bethea's in America was around. John Bethea, nicknamed "Devil" was a Revolutionary War vet and supposedly hung a man who tried to rob his parents, but instead poured hot pitch on Mr. Bethea Sr's head - and dad drove us by the old yard where the hanging took place. It was so interesting to read the grave stones - a little strange though!
Least to say, it won't be another 5 years until we go back! (click on the images above to view entire album