Blessed are the shapers

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, November 25, 2014

By all accounts, it should be the kind of culinary spread I’m used to on Thanksgiving Day — a handsomely roasted turkey, sweet potatoes, some form of lasagna and red wine. Gumbo is the likely dish with the leftover turkey, so that should make up the inch I’ve lost since the kidney stone surgery.

Since I’ve either whetted your appetite like a holiday foodie or shooed you away after that first paragraph, I’ll keep the rest of this fairly familiar. Think of Jimmy Fallon’s hit-or-miss “thank you notes” when reading these — with or without the piano.

Thank you, mom, for making me at least try that long division with numbers that were too big for the page, fractions that seemingly couldn’t be reduced and, above all, reading that children’s dictionary to me before I ever saw the inside of a classroom. It paid off nicely. I’m sure your gumbo will be amazing as usual.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Thank you, dad, for being such an accurate quarterback in the backyard. Not bad for someone who was a two-way tight end/defensive end on the prep level in the late ‘60s — at 185 pounds, no less. Before mom put in that flowerbed and those pesky trees, we had a veritable sports complex back there. It surely kept me out of trouble.

Thank you, cousins Chris and Brian. And, based on occasional stay-overs, cousins Brad and Kevin, too. An only child needs brothers of a different kind, I guess. None of us were very good sports at touch football, the famous game of “let’s dunk the Nerf basketball and crash into the closet door” and all those classic video games. Heaven knows what they’d turn us into in this day and age of “everyone gets a trophy.” We’ve gone in different directions now, zigzagging from good to bad. But, I have the Kodak paper and old Super-8 film to prove we were all-pros out there.

Thank you, Miss Fort. This was the woman who taught my eighth grade algebra class and got me through high school algebra, the roughest academic experience of my life. And that includes college, when my fellow Gen-Xers finally figured out they had to shut up for a second and stop goofing off so they might understand the subject.

With the gentlest point of her fingers on a textbook page, she could get this bookworm to conceptualize math. “Look at these two, and tell me how they’re different,” she could say. We killed flies with better swatters, she and I. No sledgehammers, no core of commonality here — just the minor adjustment per chapter most kids need.

And finally, thanks to my great aunt Julia. No one called her by her name, mind you. She was godmother, nannie and friend to blood and friendly relation alike. “The good Lord don’t sleep,” she was said to repeat frequently.

He won’t sleep tonight either. Who can sleep when they’re too busy smiling with you?

Danny Barrett Jr. is a reporter and can be reached by email at or by phone at 601-636-4545.