We gather together.

All things said and done, it was a good weekend – my first two day weekend in as many weeks, and it felt very short.

I went yesterday to pick up my jelly and ribbon at the fair, and the guy right next to me is picking up a ton of different jars. I look at his claim slip, and the name definitely rings a bell. A BIG bell. And so I asked him, “Why no pepper jelly this year?”

That’s right folks, I was talking with the great Ben Englehart – winner of last year’s pepper jelly. He remembered me from last year as having that “speckled jar” of jelly – and told me that last year was his first year entering the State Fair. He also assured me that the Chambers family could not live forever – and that they all live on the same road and they travel from fair to fair entering their goods – all of which are made by a single elder member of the family. He actually said that. He further went on to explain that he and “his girl” both enter, but if she does pickle chips, he does spears – so it’s clear they aren’t cheaters. You read that right – Ben thinks they’re cheaters.

I was glad to talk with Ben – as we all know, I’ve never met a stranger (thanks to Dad for that trait), and he was so nice. He’s one of those guys who is kind of ageless – he could be 35 or 50 – but he looks healthy, sunburned and happy. Anyway, I got my jelly – he got his chili sauce, soup mix, pickles, pickled peppers, etc. – and plenty of ribbons to boot.

The bad news is that the city of Nashville has told the powers that be that they cannot use the fairgrounds next year – that Davidson County will not be sponsoring a State Fair.

What this means, I know not. Am I worried? Yes, yes I am.

But, if this was my swansong, I’ll take it – I went over to Michael’s after the jelly was securely placed in my car, where I bought some scrapbook paper and a frame to mount the ribbon. While there, I noticed aisle after aisle of Halloween decorations, crafts, objets d’art, gewgaws, and assorted crapola. What I didn’t see was much Thanksgiving gear. In the magazine display at Kroger, there are at least a dozen Halloween magazines, already a few Christmas titles, and once again – nothing for Thanksgiving.

It’s disheartening. I am once again hosting the big family Thanksgiving here in Nashville – and let’s face it – certain members of my family are a little rigid as to menu choices, deviations from tradition, etc.

And sure, I have my quirks and preferences. No celery in the dressing, Durkee’s sauce on hand for sandwiches – and for that matter, plenty of soft, nutritionless white bread for turkey/Durkee’s/cranberry sauce sandwiches. Pickled peaches – even though I don’t even like them.

It’s just, I want to come up with something really amazing this year. And I feel stuck…aaaand I don’t want to spend a lot of money.

I ran across an old notebook from a Thanksgiving past, and it had the lists, the menus and all the artifacts I would need to replicate the same dinner as I did in either 2006, 2007 or 2008. Where’s the novelty, though?

One day this week, just for fun, I may peruse the fabric store for inspiration!