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Letter: A 58-year tradition

This year, more than any other, I am grateful for the 57 Thanksgivings that have been hosted at “John Tree Hill,” our family home overlooking the James River, in rural Powhatan County. The tradition dates back to 1962, the year my parents moved from suburbia to the countryside. The routine has changed very little since that earliest celebration. The participants have naturally aged, and sadly, many are no longer with us.

They say olfactory senses are those most closely linked to memory. To my sisters and me, Thanksgiving began days in advance with the smell of Wright’s Silver Cream, Niagara spray starch, furniture polish and ammonia as we scurried about to ready the old house for our out-of-town relatives. Acres of leaves were raked, downed limbs burned, fireplaces laid and, of course, many tables set.

As guests arrived with side dishes in hand, they were escorted to the kitchen or dining room, depending upon the amount of warming required. Like a triage unit in the ER, decision...

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