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From the Publisher's Desk – Countdown has officially begun (Dec. 2, 2015 issue)

Shoppers, you now have approximately 20 days left before Christmas. Let the craziness begin. With Thanksgiving behind us, we can now mention that fast approaching holiday that takes us through the remainder of the year at supersonic speed, splashed with a red blur and some sparkling tinsel.
It is good that Thanksgiving comes before Christmas. It allows us to stuff ourselves with additional nourishment to work off of in case we don’t get time to eat much until the big day. I consider myself very blessed with a bounty of things to be thankful for.
Thanksgiving was just my mom and me this year. I had planned for weeks, looked up several recipes on the Internet and made out a menu. For some dishes, I couldn’t decide which recipe sounded best, so I thought I would combine the items that were different from each into one.
A friend told me his family always brined their turkey. The night before, so I decided to do that. I had a turkey breast with bone still intact. I realized the bird needed to be fully submerged in water to accomplish the task.
I went through five pots before finally finding one the turkey breast would fit in. Some previous tries required nearly filling the pot to the brim with water to see that it wasn’t deep enough to cover the bird.
Realizing the hazard of turkey and contamination, a thorough cleanup was needed for each vessel. Never having brined before, I tossed in some spices, some lemon juice and salt into the water. It couldn’t hurt. Could it?
The next morning, after a few more trips to the grocery store, I began figuring out the oven temperatures, time frames and schedules each dish needed in order to get done on time. I felt like an air traffic controller trying to get all of the planes off the runway and safely landed without a collision. At some points, there were four dishes in the oven at a time. They were various sizes and turned at multiple angles to make the puzzle fit.
We sat down, joined hands and I offered up a prayer for all of the blessings throughout the year and the ability to prepare and share the meal before us. I guess it is a good thing we offer thanks prior to eating, not knowing how it will taste.
The dishes my mom prepared, corn and sweet potato casserole, turned out perfect. My dishes were impressive on the plate but lacking to the palette.
The turkey seemed tough. The brussels sprouts did not caramelize. The stuffing (or dressing) wouldn’t stay together long enough to get it from plate to mouth. The cranberry sauce was too thin. The mashed potatoes were too dense. The rolls were burnt on the bottom.
As a warm up meal for later, we improved the dressing, and cranberry sauce. It is also amazing what a little gravy will do when added to everything. Next year we’re going out.
We saw some friends over the holiday, which is what it’s all about anyway. Saturday was the Erwin Christmas Parade, which helps jump start the Christmas season. It is amazing what decorative floats, happy people pelting me with candy and the eventual arrival of Santa Claus can do to put me in the Christmas spirit.
I believe this is one of the best parades I have seen in Erwin. As I got an early spot in the back parking lot at The Erwin Record, spectators were already lining the streets from Food Lion into town. Parking spaces were filling up quickly and lawn chairs were out near the street awaiting the arrival of the big event.
I got there early enough to browse through The Bramble, admire the beauty of such a venue in town and run into some old friends. The beauty of a small town and knowing most of your fellow Unicoi Countians makes the parade seem more like a homecoming and a chance to visit with friends you haven’t seen in awhile.
Fellow church member and recent resident of Erwin, Kathryn Bowen, made mention of the charm of Erwin. She was getting her hair done as the parade approached. She said everyone in the shop from clients to employees went outside to watch the event. With some in rollers and some in foil for a perm, they stopped everything to enjoy the moment of the parade as it passed by.
The parade held such a variety this year from homemade floats to custom rented ones, all filled with smiling faces waving in the arrival of the season. Beauty queens, fire departments, the UCHS band, clubs, organizations, churches and more, all fell into place like magic.
I am constantly amazed at how they all meet in the parking lot near Tractor Supply and the
Chamber of Commerce staff sorts them out to form a magical procession to flow down Main Avenue.
By the end of the parade I was feeling in the holiday mood and knew that the stage had been set to put December in motion. I guess it is time to tackle the decorations at home. Remind me again to stay thankful during the struggles of that task. Tis the season.