There is a tradition in my family. Whatever else we do on Thanksgiving, my brother and I take our families to our Aunt’s and Uncle’s Thanksgiving celebration. We’ve done this regularly since 1993, when my father died. And we’ve done it religiously since 2001, after my mother died. It is pretty much the only time we keep in contact with my Father’s family.
This takes place in the area around where my Father was born. My Uncle, the oldest living member of my Father’s family, even bought a farm that I think once held the house my father was born in. Dad always refered to the area as Sand Valley. But the church we hold the event as is Kyuka Baptist Church, and the area is known today (and maybe always) as Kyuka, Alabama.
Don’t look for it on a map. Chances are it isn’t there. But it is located somewhere between Sardis City and Gadsden Alabama. It gets little reception, at least on AT&T. All that seems to be there is the Baptist Church and the cemetery across the street. Now much fun is had at this reunion. It is really a reunion for my Aunt’s side of the family, but we tag along anyway. So the only people I’m related to at the event are my Uncle and Cousins, but we are always made to feel right at home.
Now why we keep going back to this place, besides the obvious family connection, is that it is the one time a year we get to go country and be hicks. That’s not really fair, almost everyone who attends this reunion is a professional at some relatively high tech gig, but they all come from the country and they all come back every year and do those things country people do. Like cook mounds of great food. And shoot guns. And ride 4-wheelers. And talk about football. Mostly Auburn football, but sometimes Texas football.
This doesn’t happen every day for me. Living in Huntsville might as well be some urban center for all the chances I get to go horseback riding. So it is kinda cool that my kids got to get up on a horse today. And the only time I get on a 4-wheeler is at this event, so taking my daughter on a whirlwind tour of the old family farm was kinda cool.
Seeing the family is always nice. And my Uncle makes sure the kids have a good time. He always plans a hayride for the kids, and most of the adults tag along. I mean really, how often do kids in Huntsville get to ride a trailer pulled by an honest to God John Deere tractor? Not often, I assure you. So that is always fun to watch and usually I participate as well. But this year I didn’t go on the hayride. Instead I indulged one of my favorite pastimes of wandering around cemeteries and looking at the tombstones.
I don’t know why I enjoy this. Part of it is the beautiful and often old artwork you’ll find in cemeteries. I’ve yet to find a cemetery that doesn’t have at least a few beautifully rendered tombstones. Part of it is my love of Halloween and looking for ideas for my Halloween Haunts. Part of it is just finding cemeteries peaceful. Whatever it is, it is something I enjoy doing.
So I indulged. I went to the Kyuka Cemetery across the street from the church and took a tour. And here are a few shots of what I found there.