Prologue: November

This is the time of year that reminds me of my grandmother.
The daylilies (or naked ladies) have just finished blooming, the leaves (which were the bain of her existence) have been steadily falling, there’s a cool in the air, and pumpkins, turkeys, cornucopia and the like have dotted the harvest decor landscape.
It’s still hard to comprehend that it’s truly already November. It seems like my vacation was years ago, but yet the 2017 holidays were just a few months ago. And it seems like forever since I last was able to talk to her, visit her or shop for her. We lost Mimmy eight years ago during this time of year... when the lilies boomed and there was a cool in the air.
She would have been 99 this month. Many years her birthday, Nov. 26, fell on Thanksgiving, which made the holiday even more special.
For us, gathering as family for the Thanksgiving meal was not about paper plates and plastic cups to make things quick and easy, but rather her Rosalind china, the silver, linen tablecloth and napkins and some type of harvest vignette at the center of the Duncan Phyfe table, which had been expanded to provide ample room for the family.
After the meal, there was an assembly line to get the dishes washed since my grandmother never had or wanted a dishwasher. Once the dishes were put away, we could chill out for the rest of the afternoon/evening. Perhaps we’d get in the picture closet and pull out old photos and laugh and hear stories from the elder family members, or just sit and talk. The day would have made for a good Signature story.
For the last five years, the November issue of Signature has featured the Thanksgiving traditions of Pine Belt families. That first year, 2013, Robert St. John and his mom, Dinny, welcomed us for a Thanksgiving meal Robert had prepared and shared their family’s favorite recipes as well as their many blessings. The next year, former Hub City resident Stuart Gates prepared a turkey dinner for friends and shared some of his favorite recipes.
The next year found photographer Lee Cave and myself at the beautiful hilltop home of David and Ginny McKellar and their nine children, a son-in-law and one grandchild, as well as grandparents.
It was a fun time hearing the children talk about school and hobbies and the things they enjoyed about the holiday, while their parents lamented about the many joys and blessings their children had provided. Danielle, who was 10 at the time, and a budding artist, created colorful leaf artwork to be used as part of the decor on that year’s Thanksgiving table. I still have a leaf in the bookshelf behind my desk. 
The next year, 2016, we found ourselves at Christian Services talking about the many worthwhile services they provide year-round, but especially at Thanksgiving, backed by a community of helpers.
And then in 2017, we featured Hattiesburg’s new first family, The Barkers, and their holiday traditions with Kate sharing a couple of her favorite recipes. This year the family welcomed a new family member, Mack, who was born in June. 
Each year the November magazines were published and distributed around town and quickly disappeared. Gobbled up, you could say!
We still have people coming in looking for past November issues for the wonderful recipes that have been shared year after year, and to their dismay we have to tell them there are none to be had.
So, for all of you who have been disappointed there are no more past November issues, this month’s feature revisits many of those recipes compiled all in one issue. We’re as excited as many of you are to have them all together.
Now, there’s a keepsake that I’m sure will quickly disappear as well. 
Whether its Jill St. John’s Sweet Potatoes or Spinach Madeleine, Gates’ Tasso Ham Creamed Corn or Carmelized Brussel Sprouts with Honey and Bacon, you’re sure to find a recipe (Pages 53-57) you’ll want to add to your holiday table. We also asked our readers, via Signature’s Facebook page, to share favorite holiday dishes they find on their table each Thanksgiving. You’ll find a few of those here, as well.
And because the season is about thanks, giving and blessings, you’ll also find a feature on Brady and Christen Raanes and their (c) 3 wines, which are a philanthropic effort to support other charities. Because of the many blessings their family has received, including the adoption of Manny and Beni, from Ghana and The Congo, respectively, the family wanted to reach out and support others. See Pages 26-29.
We hope this holiday season finds you surrounded by loved ones,  enjoying the many blessings of this season of thanksgiving.