#039;Dumpling#039; understanding would make world better

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 29, 2004

Well, by this time of the holiday weekend many of us have seen just about enough turkey and dressing to last us until next Thanksgiving season, or least until the memories of this year's gluttony fade.

For others, today may be the final day to hit the stores in search of those after-Thanksgiving Day bargains.

Normally this time of year, I'd use this space to attempt to list all of the people and things for which I am thankful. The list would most certainly contain family, friends and the wonderful co-workers here at the newspaper, but invariably I'd make a mistake and leave someone important out.

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And, this year, one person has stood out in my mind as I reflect on my blessings this holiday season.

Last week, during a trip to visit relatives in Mississippi I stopped by the home of my Aunt Mirlee (pronounced, Mur-Lee) and Uncle L.A. I've always enjoyed visiting with them. My aunt is one of the sweetest people I know. I've never heard her say a cross word to, or about, anyone - ever.

How she does it, I don't know, but I've always admired that characteristic.

In recent months, Aunt Mirlee learned she has cancer. It was a discovery that would, for many of us, make us bitter toward life and the lemons fate cast our way.

Not her, she's continued on being her normal, positive, humble self despite the pain and despite the worries ahead.

In fact, she hasn't changed her outlook at all, as far as I can tell.

During my visit she began telling of how she'd prepared chicken and dumplings for a gathering of her husband L.A., her son, his new wife and her family.

Aunt Mirlee wasn't in charge of cooking anything, but she tried to help out by doing some prep work for the real cooks.

Basically, she'd prepared the dumplings ahead of time, fixing the dough and such, so that all the "cooks" had to do was just drop them into a pot and cook them.

Well, this is where I need to confess my ignorance of the dumpling-cooking process.

Apparently, when cooking dumplings, you are not supposed to stir them. Stirring them causes them to lump together. Anyone worthy of cooking dumplings should already know this, so I was told.

I didn't know that and, apparently, neither did someone at the new in-laws' house.

So suffice to say as the dumplings were brought forth for consumption, they didn't seem all that familiar to my uncle and cousin.

I think they ate them, politely, but all the time I suspect their minds were saying, "These don't taste right. These aren't like …"

And what did my aunt think about it? Did she poke fun? Nope. She took it in stride and with the understanding and kindness she's displayed her entire life.

"You know, there's nothing wrong with the way they did it," she said. "It's just different. That's all. Everybody's got their way of doing things."

With all of the conflict in our world, I couldn't help believe the world certainly would be a lot better off if we all had Aunt Mirlee's sense of understanding and tolerance: Different doesn't mean bad, just different.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445, ext. 12 or by e-mail to kevin.cooper@irontontribune.com.