MLN-FrontPorch-14Preparing Thanksgiving dinner the year after my grandmother died was sad. Traditionally, the women in our family shared Thanksgiving kitchen duty in relative harmony. Our disagreements were few, light hearted and easily resolved. However, the last year grandma was alive she was uncharacteristically contrary and bossy during the preparation of the Thanksgiving meal.

Usually, grandma enjoyed the chatter and sharing her memories with us. Yet, on this occasion, she was unusually silent. She refused to take part in the festive chatter going on around her. She grouched that we weren’t using her ‘famous’ cornbread/oyster stuffing recipe. She appeared to have forgotten that the stuffing recipe had been adapted several times and none of us could remember the last time we used her ‘famous’ recipe. Yet, she insisted on making a big deal out of it.

Also, she insisted that she disliked that “dang fool recipe that called for marshmallows in the yams”. We attempted to appease her by cooking a batch of yams with no marshmallows. But, she continued to glare at us and grumble about “all these changes” and “too many cooks spoil the broth”.

Following her last Thanksgiving meal with us, grandma insisted on having her pie on the front porch even though it was cold and windy out there. She said she needed to get away from all the yakking we were doing. Remembering this incident led me to experience a strange need for solitude. Hence, I slipped out to the porch in search of a private moment. When I reached the porch, I was surprised to find year old daughter sitting there, munching on a piece of pie. I asked why she was out in the cold, she said, “Having pie and thinking about Big Ma.”

When I pushed for more information, she told me, “Last year, I noticed Big Ma’s bad mood. So I followed her out here and asked her why she was so mad at everyone. She pulled me into her lap and said: ‘I’m not mad at y’all. I’m feeling sorry for myself and making everyone miserable because of it. Don’t you to ever pull a trick like that because it’s not a nice thing to do. Fact is somebody should kick my butt for being so rude. Please accept my apology.”

I asked her how she responded to this and her answer made me cry. She said she told her Big Ma: “I understand and love you, even when you’re grouchy. So, no apology is needed.”

Even at the tender age of nine, my child understood what family love was all about. No apology is required between those who understand and love each other – another great front porch lesson learned.

Betty Freeman Haines, an author and award winning columnist, lives in Mesquite, NV. Her books/e-books, Reluctant Hero and Grieving Sucks or Does It, can be ordered from Share your thoughts and opinions with her at