Small Talk: Jacksonville’s Baker family celebrates Thankmas
by Annette Maddox
Special to The Star
Feb 10, 2013 | 956 views |  0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If anyone in Jacksonville noticed the “beyond the expiration date” Christmas decorations in, on and around the home of Bob and Milly Baker, it was due to Thankmas, created around 1998 as their family’s combined Thanksgiving and Christmas celebration.

Anyone who’s part of a blended family knows how difficult it can be to synchronize various holiday schedules so that everyone’s happy. The Bakers opted out of the frenzy, deciding instead to let everyone chill during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and designated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in January as their family’s time to gather and celebrate.

In the spirit of the holidays, the Bakers’ trees and house stay decorated well after the New Year kicks in, and their yard is ablaze in lights — mostly solar, and “so cool,” according to Milly.

Just like the other holidays, Thankmas is always complete with gifts, food (lots of it) and grandchildren waiting to open presents and being blinded by camera flashes. One Thankmas, because the children had been extra good that year, Santa even stopped by for a visit.

Traveling just a short way over the river and through the woods from Oxford were Crystal and Robby Joplin, along with Luke and Eli, while other branches of the Baker tree — Brooke and Jason Lee, with children Lauryn and Noah, plus Mason and Grant Baker — all traveled from Dothan.

Finally, from Jacksonville, Fla., Kristina and Judah Baker joined the clan, bringing sweet baby Margeaux for her first-ever Thankmas celebration.

Saturday, Jan. 21 found Chez Baker bursting at the seams and a flurry of activity, as kin of all ages anticipated the Big Meal, a time of great fellowship and of enjoying the special “signature” dishes lovingly prepared by family members. Prior to settling in at the children’s table, grandson Grant made a special request of Grandpaw Bob: rattlesnake gravy. An online search and a bit of kitchen wizardry later, rattlesnake gravy was served (grandpaws always come through for us, don’t they?) but, oddly, most of it was not consumed.

There’s always room for more at the Baker table, and guests Janice and Steve Chandler (Crystal’s parents), their daughter Brittany and her new husband Chris Weninegar joined the group for dinner — although it’s not clear whether or not they partook of the special gravy …

Milly’s dad, Ken Benier visited for awhile in between trips to visit her mom, Betty Joy (who was at NHC for a brief stint, and is safely back home at press time), and dear family friend Drew Housand of Huntsville made a late appearance Monday afternoon.

Until next year …

To share your news with Small Talk, contact Annette Maddox at

Save the Date

Yuk it up on Valentine’s Day at “A Love’s Holiday Fest Fundraiser” Feb. 14 from 7-10 p.m. This full night of live music, laughs, poetry, dancing, food and drinks will be hosted by comedian Darryl Damn (featuring Ms. Joi Tiffany of Detroit) and benefits the Kevin Thompson Scholarship Fund and ACEF :Youth Coalition. Tickets are $35 individual and $50 couple; VIP tables available upon request. Alcohol will be served, and ticket prices are subject to change at the door. For ages 21 years and up only. Call 256-741-1629 or 256-741-1630.
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Small Talk: Jacksonville’s Baker family celebrates Thankmas by Annette Maddox
Special to The Star

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