NOTE: I have referred to this banquet in other writings. In this essay, the church was a small church in Trail, Ohio, which was closed a number of years ago. The banquet continued through another church after the Trail church closed.
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In Holmes County, Ohio, where I grew up, the month of May was party time! Mother's Day is a big event in that part of the state. Nearly every church and every women's organization hosts a Mother-Daughter banquet. Some are potluck affairs, some are held in a banquet room of one of the local restaurants and some are planned, prepared and served by husbands and sons. Wherever they were held, it was a time to wear your prettiest dress and often, a corsage. In our family, we always had 3 banquets to attend.
One was at our church. That one was usually catered by the men in the congregation. The food was simple, but very good, and all the women seemed to take great delight in watching the men stepping out of their comfort zones, wearing aprons and hot mitts. Dinner was followed by a program of music, poetry, and a speaker. Often the speaker was some fortunate person who had taken an interesting vacation and had an abundance of slides to "show and tell."
My mother's garden club usually held their banquet at a local restaurant. Being in the heart of Amish Country, meals were served "family style" with big bowls of homemade mashed potatoes, corn (a Holmes County staple) and stuffing, plus platters of chicken, ham and swiss steak and an array of homemade pies for dessert. Upon arriving at this banquet, the first order of business was to find your name tag on one of the many tables, and then to check what type of pie was already set at your place. If you didn't like it, you could quickly switch with someone else's piece before they arrived. After that, you had to keep your eye on your place setting, so that no one tried to take the pie you had selected. After the meal, there was a program consisting of songs, jokes, hilarious skits and sometimes a humorous speaker. My mom, my sister, my sisters-in-law and my nieces and I always sat near my cousins, who had a knack for turning the most innocent conversations into comedy fit for the world's best comediennes. By the time the evening ended, my whole face ached from laughing. Needless to say, we eagerly awaited this event each year.
The third banquet was organized by my sister's Ladies' Sunday School class. Now my sister, Faun, went to a tiny church in the little village of Trail, Ohio. I visited her church on many occasions, and never did I see more than 20 people in the entire church. Usually there were only 11 or 12 for Sunday services. But, for this banquet at least 50-60 women attended every year! Many of those who came, had moved to the larger towns of Walnut Creek and Berlin, and attended church in their new neighborhoods, but they still came back for the banquet.
Faun's banquet was usually held at one of the local restaurants, and the program was usually a speaker or a local singing group. Food was good, conversation was lively and fun and the entire evening lasted no more than 2 hours.
One of the things that I really liked about this banquet, was that it was called the Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend Banquet. At other banquets, women who had not had children or whose mother had passed away, or who had no family in the area, often felt left out, or uncomfortable, because the focus was totally on mothers and daughters. At this banquet, women brought their neighbors, their co-workers, a lonely resident of one of the area retirement homes, or someone who had just moved into the area. It was an evening of celebrating relationships and friendships, and a time to acknowledge those who have helped us through difficult times, or who may be facing challenges themselves.
I think back on those wonderful banquets, and I laugh at many of the things I remember, shed tears as I think of so many wonderful women who have passed on, and I am thankful for the incredible memories of so many uniquely gifted and talented women.
In the northeast Ohio homeschool/learning community, I have met many incredible women. Most of them read this newsletter. This Sunday, I will be celebrating the tremendous gift of knowing you. You have enriched my life and the lives of my daughters. You have been role models, confidants, supporters, cheerleaders and friends. Many of you are like sisters to me. Thank you for being part of my life!
Celebrate the mothers, daughters, sisters and friends, who have enriched your life!
Celebrating those who enrich my life,
"My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her."
-- George Washington
"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it." -- Mark Twain
"Sometimes the poorest woman leaves her children the richest inheritance." Ruth E. Renkel