Friday, October 17, 2014

Permission to Eat Pumpkin Pie

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching and the leaves softly landing, this time of year brings to mind one of my many favorite treats:  pumpkin pie!  In fact, I have already enjoyed a homemade delicious slice of the orange fruit (or is it a veggie?) while visiting my cousin Tammy just the other day.  As I gaze out my kitchen window at the W. Va. fall foliage, crystal blue sky, and puffy clouds passing, Thanksgiving 2001 was my induction into the Hott's "permission to eat pumpkin pie"!

Well, I don't know about where you grew up; but where I come from we traditionally had a pumpkin pie or two to celebrate the season with family.  It was in 1995 when I made my first holiday venture to the Hott Family Thanksgiving Traditional Dinner.  Surely there will be plenty of turkey and the favorites;... wonder if there will be a pumpkin pie?!

So, do you think there may have been one..... maybe two pumpkin pies?

Nope.
Three pumpkin pies?

No.

You're wrong!

Not 1.  Not 2, or even 3!
28!  TWENTY-EIGHT!!!

Mrs. Hott had personally baked,... from scratch, with REAL pumpkins --  28 pumpkin pies! 

And I am sooo not kidding you!  Following a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner, pumpkin pies emerge from everywhere!  Apparently, desserts always are hidden out in the "milk shed" until supper is over. Mrs. Hott lovingly manages her kitchen table much like a New York City traffic cop; allowing for nearly 90 family members to each sit for a meal not only on Thanksgiving but for each and every Sunday afternoon.  Once your plate is empty, you have to get up in order for someone waiting to eat to have a place to sit down.   Her farm house home is so crowded with relatives slowly inching their way, shoulder to shoulder, to the table.  Talk about a close family!

To this day, I am not sure from where all the food came!  Endless plates of fresh garden vegetables, mashed potatoes, home-cooked casseroles -- all from seemingly bottomless pots and pans!  It really is kinda magical, you know.  Or, a bit like Jesus feeding the masses with just a fish and five loaves of bread!

Finally when she authorized permission to begin dessert, there was formed a caravan of grandchildren carrying inside 28 pies of pumpkin among a plethora of other delicious delectable desserts!

So, as Thanksgiving quickly approaches this year I stumble across this picture of Mrs. Violet Hott (hotthubby Dan's mother), the matriarch of the family.  I LOVE this photo! Just look at her rosy cheeks (a face to rival Mrs. Claus)!          This is Thanksgiving 2001.  After six years of sitting at her table for the same holiday, it is this year that she allowed me to have pie early.  In fact, after a few brothers-in-law yelled at me and tried to get me in trouble with Mrs. Hott when I found a pie on the counter, with a twinkle in her eye she came to my defense!  I got pie first that year.

And, well...so did Heath (another Hott nephew)!  Grandma Violet hid an entire pie just.for.him!

(Really, she did!  I saw him eat it and am still amazed!)
Eventually, Thanksgiving dinner outgrew Mrs. Hott's old farm house and the family now gathers not far away in Pennsylvania.  Pictured here is the 2005 holiday.  Yes, this is her immediate family.  All 165+ of them (really, I counted)! 

"I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies."  Genesis 22:17

You are never a stranger at the Hott Farm.  If you're hungry, she gives you food; if you are thirsty, she gives you a sweet tea; and if you're a stranger, well.... it's only for a second.  (Matthew 25:35)  

And, if you're lucky, you just might get permission to eat pumpkin pie early!  

Today, Grandma Violet is now 93.  After suffering from a stroke 4 years ago, she is surrounded by her rather large family for what I am told may be her final days.  As we remember our sweet angel, the strong, hard-working woman whose descendants span the hills of West Virginia to the shores of the Potomac, the mother of my sweet-loving Dan, number 10 child among her 13, please keep us all in your prayers.  Let her know, Lord, that like my early piece of pie, You are waiting for her at Your Thanksgiving table with her very own fresh slice of heaven.  

Among the crowded and noisy house, I found favor in my mother-in-law that day, when I thought she never noticed me.  Funny how in something like just a piece of pie there was an expression of her grace, not unlike Your grace, in the smallest smile or twinkle in her eyes, waiting for me.  As the woman who opened her heart to countless people with a just seat at her kitchen table prepares to pass from this world to Yours, please allow us to rejoice in her reunion with You as she receives her place at Your table. The legacy of Violet Mariam Smoot Hott is a story to celebrate.

It's just so hard to image a Thanksgiving (or any) dinner without her...and all the pumpkin pies.



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