COUSINS FOR LIFE
Those Ensminger cousins loved spending time together! It was probably sometime in the 1970s that Neal, his wife Maggie and sister Effie Mae first hosted a Christmas party for the group. They had Christmas decorations everywhere and a table filled with delicious cookies, cakes, cheese balls, Chex party mix, fudge, divinity—and red Christmas punch!
Everyone had a wonderful time, laughing and telling old family stories. Neal had retired as managing editor of the Daily Post-Athenian and was quite the orator. Howard was always laughing and telling jokes. He was the spokesperson for Mayfield Dairy Farms—and always provided the latest ice cream flavors.
I like this one photo because everyone is so animated—their personalities seem to come through. And two sets of siblings are in it—Neal in the red checked vest and Effie Mae in the green dress and Sarah Lee in the white jacket and Howard in the suit. Harriett is in the blue dress talking with Willie Mae in the red dress.
By the end of first year’s party, everyone had agreed this had to be an annual tradition. Soon it evolved into a covered dish meal, with everyone bringing a favorite Christmas food. The second photo, from a party in the late 1980’s, shows everyone at the table filling their plates.
And the invitation list seemed to grow every year—as other cousins and children and spouses of cousins joined. Some years Farrell and Daisy, Harold and Willie Grace, Robbie, Hoyt and Mattie, Viola and Jimmy were able to be there. Everyone waited to get their written invitation from Neal (usually as an original poem) and began making plans.
After Harriett began spending most of her time with us in South Carolina, at least two years I drove her back to Athens for the cousins’ Christmas party and enjoyed the fun with them. It was a party not to be missed!