With Thanksgiving fast approaching I can’t help but remember my childhood memories many Thanksgivings ago. We called it Hog Killin Day. It always came at Thanksgiving cause the weather became cold enough by then to keep the meat. Sometimes if there were two hogs to kill, one was done at Thanksgiving, the other at Christmas.
It all began early in the morning before daylight. Daddy would build a big, roaring fire and sharpen all the knives. We’d get all the pans ready in the kitchen. The kitchen is where I stayed, didn’t want any part of the killing.
Everybody would start gathering in about daylight. Family, friends neighbors and some we didn’t even know but they claimed to be kin. They all took part helping cause everybody wanted a big mess of fresh meat. When it came hog Killin Day, everybody pitched in and when it came their turn at their house it was the same.
It was an all day event and the working was hard. Those big shoulders, hams etc. were salted down and taken to the smokehouse to cure. There was nothing wasted but the squealer when it came to a hog. Every part was saved including the feet and I’ll leave out the part about the brains. The head was used to make souse meat and there was always plenty of sausage to can. We never knew what a freezer was until I was almost grown. A big pan sit on the back burner of the stove for days on end, rendering the lard. That sure did save on the grocery bills.
We looked forward to those big pans of tenderloin with hot biscuits come suppertime. We even had ham or tenderloin for breakfast with gravy and biscuits. Then the next day we’d have back bones and ribs, so on and so forth. And of course the Thanksgiving table was graced by hog meat. To say I was sure glad to get some chicken, is an understatement. That didn’t come to often either, just when we had a bunch of young fryers to thin out. They usually graced the Sunday dinner table when the preacher and all the other folks gathered in. Mama would throw in a big homemade banana pudding for good measure. We cleaned the bowls, regardless of what kind of meat we had or not. In a big family you learn early on to eat what’s on the table. We eat three meals a day and there were no snacks of sweet doings as mama used to call them. Our snacks were a big piece of left over cornbread with some little green onions from the garden. Especially after we got in from school in the evenings before we done our chores. That was in the warm months of spring and summer. By the time it came Hog Killin Day our mouths watered for some meat . I can honestly say I’ve never went to bed hungry a night in my life. If we didn’t have anything but cornbread and milk it was more than was promised.
I know a lot of things have changed today, some for the good and some not so good but I can’t help but wonder what people would do if they had to go back to the old ways. My daddy used to say they’d starve to death for lack of knowing how to do. I long for that simple life when it didn’t take much to satisfy and what we had was worth all the money in the world. We were truly blessed and for that I’ll always be grateful.
© Susie Swanson, 2013
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I wish each and everyone of you a Happy Thanksgiving .