Whew, it was a whirlwind holiday season for me! After attending a few holiday get-togethers locally, I pointed my truck south and headed to Louisiana for Christmas and New Years. I pit-stopped for a couple nights both coming and going in Mississippi with Paran and Aunt Ruth (more on that later 😊).
My family, along with just about all of South Louisiana, are still trying to recover from the devastation exacted by hurricane Ida on August 29 (the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina). Although official records report that it was a Category 4 storm when it made landfall, local accounts indicate winds in excess of 157 mph, which is Category 5 territory. With this being the first time I’ve been back to Louisiana in two years due to the pandemic, I took a ride “down da bayou” like I always do to see how things have changed over time. The devastation that my sister and I saw as we travelled some of the scenic byway roads designated as the Wetlands Cultural Trail just a few miles south of my hometown was indescribable. I usually take tons of photos of shrimp boats, marshland, and uniquely named camps on stilts every time I go to my Louisiana home, but I took no pictures this time as we travelled through Dulac, Cocadrie, Chauvin, and Montegut out of respect for those trying to recover from such a devastating natural disaster.
All of my immediate family’s homes have been lucky enough to have had their temporary blue tarps replaced by new roofing, but the inside of their homes are in various stages of reconstruction. I spent most days at my parents’ house helping out as much as I could and the evenings couch surfing between my sister’s and brother’s houses. I tried not to be too much of a burden on any one household, but I truly enjoyed getting to spend time with each of my siblings and their families. My most favorite pass-times when I go home to Louisiana for the holidays are playing games and eating! Building puzzles, playing Pictionary and an assortment of other games with family is such a great way to be together and appreciate the dedicated effort we all make to stay connected.
Growing up, I shunned all things “domestic,” i.e., anything having to do with homemaking. I always felt more connected to outdoor activities and adventures that took me away from the house. As I’ve aged, I’ve come to appreciate the grounding activities of preparing a meal, tending plants and a yard, and all the things that make a house feel like a home. I’ve also developed deep gratitude for the tireless efforts of my mom to ensure that our home provided roots that formed the foundation that would allow me to chase my dreams. I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t pay more attention growing up while she was cooking. I have called her many times over the years to walk me through the directions while I attempted to recreate one of her dishes that I’ve come to consider comfort food. Now that I appreciate the skill it takes to make a perfectly browned roux, creamy white beans, and a slew of other dishes she whips up without thought, I tend to hang out in her kitchen more while she’s cooking, and not just once the food is being served! Gumbo . . . oyster dressing . . . shrimp dip . . . I hovered and tasted as she worked her magic 😊
As always, the time passed too quickly and before I realized it, it was time to hit the road and head north. I returned to my home in North Carolina with my soul re-energized and an ice chest of Mom’s frozen left-overs! I hope that your holidays were filled with family and friends and that your 2022 is getting off to a great start!!