Hijacking Thanksgiving – video

November 20, 2018


Happy Thanksgiving week! Here on the blog, I’ve mentioned having Thanksgiving at my brother’s house — the Old Smyrna Firehouse, but for the first time, I’ve written about it for the newspapers. The Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times will run the story this week online and next Sunday in the printed version (I just love the real paper version of newspapers, don’t you?)

Here’s a video my son Joseph made about his Uncle’s house:

Anyway, for those of you popping over from the paper, here is a link to see a previous story about the Firehouse – complete with a few photos. Robert just added the fire pole last year, so I’ll search for a photo of that to add later. He adds something new all the time, so I’ll post updated photos as I get them. Enjoy your holiday!

Hijacking Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has been hijacked by my brother. I guess it’s been about four or five years since my mother claimed to be too old and tired (and wise), to host the holiday gatherings.  We took pity on her and I immediately claimed Thanksgiving since I was the one who had an antique tea set with fall leaves painted on it — perfect for Thanksgiving. I’m the one who knows how to roast a perfectly moist, savory turkey and can make real authentic cranberry sauce that doesn’t have little ridges where it plopped out of the can. I even own my very own pilgrim costume  — really.


But brother Robert ironically has the big house and like most babies of the family, pitched the (fit) idea that he was discriminated against because he was single and didn’t know how to cook, so why not come to his house? My sons love going to Uncle Robert’s because he has cool gadgets and has built an amazing house that has a bathroom floor tiled with pennies and a real fire pole to slide down from the second floor hallway into the first floor dining room. He wanted Thanksgiving, so of course, he got it.


Robert is a bachelor who barely has enough plates for everyone. I always fear a Snoopy Thanksgiving with a ping-pong table set for the Peanuts gang with bowls of popcorn, toast and jelly beans.


It’s confusing because I also have a husband named Robert. We have a Robert Harrison and a Harrison Robert. Robbie, Bob, Bobby, Rob and Bert also show up from time to time. When a Southern family loves a name, they own it and squeeze every syllable out of it. There are also three Dougs at our holiday meal — two human and one canine.


Brother Robert knows I’d break out in hives at paper plates, so was kind enough that first year to only invite the exact number of people for the exact number of different colored Fiestaware  he owned. A girl showed up and kept referring to my brother as “we”-this and “we”- that. I knew she was trouble when she said her favorite kind of Coke was Pepsi. Lawdy mercy, it was a long day.


Thank goodness our family is the non-fighting type (we just grind our teeth in our sleep) and only invite friends we adore. We all hate the same football teams and love the same politicians, so conversation is joyful and civil, although the dental bills are high.


The Thanksgiving miracle is that we somehow make it through the day even though there isn’t a single pickle fork or cloth napkin in Robert’s entire house.  At the end of the day, we plan Christmas at my house where all the dishes match and no one slides around on a pole.


This will be our first holiday season without my Dad and although I’ll be ready to break out in a giant boo-hoo pity party, the lively people I celebrate with will be there with me. You may not have a fire pole in your dining room, but everyone’s family is unique in some way.  Some say Southerners are crazy —but it’s in a good way of course. And my mother, who sits back and watches her two children knock themselves out to host the holidays is the most brilliant and relaxed person in the family. Who’s crazy now?

Click HERE to read the story on AL.com 





  • And what hasn’t been said is that you have to go back upstairs the same way you came down, if you used the fire pole! 🙂

    • Ha! There are a few who did it. (not me). I”m accident prone and have been banned from the fire pole. It’s up and down the stairs for me.

  • Your brother’s home is fantastic! I can’t believe he has eluded the grasp of some charming Belle!

    The changing of the guard for the holidays is a bit bittersweet, but I remember my mom seemed happy to hand over the job to us girls. I lost my dad when I was only 22 and he was 58 ( heart attack) and now Mom at age 87. There is always a hole in your heart that never quite heals, but eventually all the great, happy memories help fill the space.

    • Thank you Roxanne. I needed to hear these things. 22 was much too young to lose your dad. I’m so sorry about that. Happy is the key. Happy memories, happy new times and happy thoughts. And . . . happy upcoming holidays to you!

  • Beautiful house highlighted by Joseph’s videography skills! Your a good sibling for sharing the “honor” of hosting holiday gatherings with your brother.

  • I am the sister of a younger brother so I can easily relate. And yes, I too, love a newspaper I can hold in my hand. One of my Sunday morning absolutes is hunting down a Birmingham News before they’re all sold out. Loved this article and the peek inside such a fabulous and unique home.

    • Joan, we’d get along just fine and over our coffee and newspapers discuss our fabulous little brothers! Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  • Great video…such talent in your boys. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Thank you Sandy, and a happy Thanksgiving to you and your gang as well.

  • What a house! I’m going to be looking at that video over and over and sharing it with my own sons.

    Your sisterly touch on the story was fun, Leslie Anne, and I think Thanksgiving at your brother’s place sounds perfect and I know Christmas at your home will be. Your mother earned her right to retire and pass the torch on. I’ve done the same thing.

    There’s going to be sadness around the table marking the loss of your beloved father but I know you all will make him proud of you, the same way you always did.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving,

    • Oh, thank you Dewena. More family is coming in tomorrow and a few fun friends as well. It will be a good day full of tears and laughter. Happy Thanksgivng to you and yours.

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