THE ELUSIVE HOLIDAY
PEEPER
by

Robert L. Seay
After unloading at the cotton patch on Thanksgiving morning of my
fifth year(1955), I quickly partnered with our oldest brother, Odas. He
could find ways to brighten the day as he did that morning by catching
a small tree frog, or "peeper", and snapping it shut in the bib of my
overalls. After some initial laughter, we both forgot about the frog and
began pick'n cotton.
Until the mid-1960's, split-term school was the norm, as well as a
necessity throughout the south. The summer term began in July  and
ran until the beginning of harvest season, at which time school let out
so families could gather crops, in this case, cotton. It had been a wet
fall which served to delay harvest, the result being that we were still
out pick'n on that pretty Thanksgiving Day.
Our spirits began to lift at noon when we loaded up and headed for
the big Thanksgiving meal that we knew Mom had ready. Spirits lifted
even higher when we noticed another vehicle in the yard, which meant
company and, perhaps, a long shot that Dad would call off work that
afternoon!
After all the "howdies" and "catch 'n ups" were gotten out of the way,
two rooms full of people crowded into one and things quieted down. As
Dad cleared his throat to say grace, it was just my luck that
the forgotton "peeper" hopped out of my overalls bib and landed on a
platter of sweet potatoes. If little sister Nancy had bowed her head like
she was supposed too, I would have gotten off scot-free! But no, in one
motion her big eyes saw, pointed and directed attention to the guilty
party. Dad being Dad, I knew I'd be banished from the table, especially
since we had guests.
There are times when older brothers can teach important lessons,
and Odas did just that in the next few moments. He not only took full
blame for putting the "peeper" in my bib, but even hinted that he'd done
a poor job of snapping it shut. At that moment, our visiting Uncle Clyde
declared, "Well, there ain't a one of us who hasn''t handled a tree frog.
Stick him back in your bib and lets turn thanks!"

During grace I kept one eye on my bib and the other on Nancy,
trying to figure out how to deliver some payback.