Mary Thomas


I will no longer pour water at our family’s annual Thanksgiving feast. No sir. The hostess of this gluttonous gala promoted me to Purveyor of Sweet Potatoes.

For all human water dispensers out there, you know what I’m talking about when I say this is a big deal. You earn the honor of displaying a dish on the coveted sideboard, my friends. Sometimes it takes years to prove you are capable of using an oven. In my case – decades.

Although now among the food elite, as God is my witness, I will never forget from whence I came. My training began early at the Thanksgiving table of my youth. While older siblings whisked lumps out of gravy and blended cream into the pumpkin pulp, I stood idle against the kitchen wall with pitcher in hand, waiting for the signal.

By the time my father corralled us together, everyone was irritable, famished, and in no mood for delay. So my one moment in the spotlight, my Thanksgiving debut, if you will, was nerve-wracking. I stood between rumbling bellies and a feast, so the family wanted rapid delivery. The pressure led to shaking hands and spills on the paper tablecloth, followed by groans of disapproval.

And then this – during grace, my father asked blessings on my mother for her tireless work in the kitchen. He gave thanks for all the hands that helped my mother prepare the feast before us. He even thanked the dead turkey for which we were about to devour. But do you think he mentioned H2O or how it got from tap to table?

I assumed with age came advancement. But there’s a downside to performing tasks on such a stellar level. No one wants to follow in your footsteps. Pouring water during the holidays is not as easy as it looks. It’s all about timing, which is tricky when every animal, human, and relative (because, as we all know, not every relative is human) crams their bodies into the kitchen and parks directly in front of the sink. Are you people aware a house has more than one room? Obviously not.

Let’s be honest. As much as we love holiday foods, we don’t need them for survival. It might pain us, but we can live without sweet potatoes and dressing, giblet gravy and corn. In fact, we might live longer if we bypassed green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. But where would we be without water? Certainly not sitting around a dining room table or, for that matter, sitting up at all.

This Thursday I am proud and relieved to pass water duties to my daughters. After much wrangling with union reps over salary caps, the two signed a contract to man the water station at future holiday gatherings. However, the fine print noted all is null and void once the family’s little ones are old enough to place ice cubes in cups without first licking them. I always considered that a job perk, but whatever.

So this Thanksgiving, enjoy family, fellowship, and friends. See how many bodies you can fit in the kitchen. And before the first bite, ask blessings on those who made sure water was part of the meal.

Trust me, after one bite of dry turkey, they are the only ones in the room who matter.

MARY F. THOMAS is a community columnist and independent journalist who resides in Tupelo. Readers can contact her at

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