Mister Sweet Tea

UnThanksgiving Day

Sammie Ellen and Bill McNair

December 1, 2016

Sammie McNair ~ Sammie is her real first name; it’s not a nickname ~ had finished preparations for Thanksgiving, and now she was waiting for her family.

Sammie’s daughters, Rita Gail Wolfe and Connie Mae Moser, were supposed to bring turkey and ham from DeWitt. Sammie would provide everything else.

On the Monday before, Sammie bought the groceries. On Wednesday, Sammie cooked: Pumpkin pie. Coconut cream pie. Pecan pie. Sweet potato casserole. Deviled eggs.

Thursday morning, she tidied up, cooked the peas, baked the cornbread, tidied up a bit more.

Then she sat. And waited.

And waited.

Bill, Connie, Rita and Sammie

Bill, Connie, Rita and Sammie

And waited.

By noon, no one had showed up.

No one had even called.

So Sammie called Angie, one of her granddaughters, to ask whether she had spoken to her mother.

No, Angie said, but her mom had emailed her from work.

Your mother is working on Thanksgiving? an incredulous Sammie asked.

Angie, bless her heart, laughed. Don’t you have a calendar? she asked her grandmother. Thanksgiving is next Thursday.

Sammie, bless her heart, cried a bit. Everyone else, of course, had a good chuckle as the news spread.

“I was at work,” Connie recalls. “I had no idea she was sitting at home fuming.

Connie Moser and her parents at Ray Winder Field in Little Rock.

Connie Moser and her parents at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.

So Connie phoned: “‘Mother look at your calendar.’ She didn’t want to talk to me. She was not a happy camper.”

The strawberry cake and the deviled eggs wouldn’t keep, so Mr. McNair and other members of the family dispatched with those on unThanksgiving Day and on Friday.

The pies went into the freezer, where they stayed for a week.

“It really wasn’t typical for her to do that,” Connie says.We were all going to be together, which didn’t always happen. I think maybe it was just pure excitement.”

Once her mother settled down, Connie says, they all had a good laugh.

Sammie McNair was still laughing about it when I talked to her days later. She didn’t mind recounting it for me. She understood the value of a good story. She shared the story with Paul Holderfield, who passed it on to me, along with Sammie’s telephone number. (Paul is pastor of the Friendly Chapel, where Sammie and Bill were charter members. Bill, like Paul’s father and his Uncle Buddy Holderfield, had boxed as a youth.”

Sammie died January 12, 2015. Bill died September 14, five days before his birthday. They had been married more than 60 years.

“I think he just really got to missing mother.”

As for her name, Sammie often told a short story about that.

Her first name, of course, was Sammie, her middle name was Ellen.

Whenever Sammie’s mother had to call her in from a long distance from the house, she always called both names, and said them fast and close ~ SammieEllen.

Which always sounded to Sammie, bless her heart, and anyone else within earshot like … Smellin.

1 Comment

  • Thank you Jay Grelen for this article. It’s the best Christmas present ever. My family is truly enjoying the memories of our first “unThanksgiving” Mother had prepared.

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