Perry Wellness Center has a legacy based on the Perry family for which it was named and whose members have exercised both leadership and support roles since its creation.
The Perry family has its own legacy of celebration at well, as was evidenced recently during its annual Thanksgiving celebration in Tazewell. While the Thanksgiving season has technically passed, we did want to share the story of one family's special holiday tradition.
No remaining member of the family can recall the actual date of the first family Thanksgiving there at Perry Pleasant Pastures, although most agree that the original celebration must have occurred almost 50 years ago. Each family member has his or her stories to tell about family and the fun that the annual gathering creates.
Steve Perry is one who remembers well. “When it first began,” he recalls, “Uncle Eldridge and Aunt Doris alternated between having the dinner at their home and at his retreat in Tazewell. Uncle Eldridge saved money wherever he could. He would begin months before the dinner to buy meats and vegetables that were bargains. They would read the ads and inserts in papers to get the best bargains. We need to do that today,” he concluded with a smile.
Today, the spacious Tazewell property is owned by Eldridge and Doris’ daughter, Mary Polly Perry Oxford. She has undertaken many property improvements to do her part to maintain and upgrade the farm.
“I try to keep the tradition growing and growing, “she explains. “I now have my son, Clay, and his daughter, Isabelle. It is important to continue the family tradition of sharing love and good food.”
Our own Stuart Perry chimed in: “I enjoy the fellowship and good food. It is important that we all laugh, be together, and have fun.”
The year, the Friday evening before the dinner is spent in final preparations, which include the roasting of a whole hog, the cooking of turkeys, and the preparation of Boston butts by Bret Braxton, a Perry cousin. Bret is a championship cooker in his own right and has been encouraged by Stuart to join in the future expansion of Perry Wellness Center.
As Perry family members arrive on Thanksgiving morning, they are greeted by a roaring fire in the original structure’s fireplace. “Starting the fire can be a challenge on wet days,” Stuart notes. “Thankfully, this most recent feast was dry and warm.”
After dinner, the men of the group move to a nearby ridge to enjoy target practice and skeet shooting. “Unlike me, we have some great marksmen in our family,” Stuart says. “I encourage them.”
As the afternoon lingers, a holiday float is readied for the children to ride through the maintained dirt roads of the farm. Mary Polly reflects, “To see this next generation enjoy this farm and have fun would please Daddy and Mother.”
And that is what traditions are about – honoring those who came before and bringing new memories to those who continue today. We hope that each of our readers’ families can maintain and create their own legacies and holiday traditions to guide them.
In the above photo, members of the extended Perry family gather on a western ridge of Perry Pleasant Pastures for a traditional family picture.