t’s Sunday afternoon. In mama’s big iron skillet the grease is popping, just right for the chicken she’s dredging. The day before three fat roosters were killed, dressed out and prepared for today’s meal. The corn is husked, the early Granny Smith apples gathered in.

Mama lays the pieces into the skillet. The lid goes on. New potatoes are dropped into the boiling water in her biggest stewer. The corn is steaming, the biscuits browning and the pie is steaming on the counter. The best table cloth is spread, mama’s finest dishes gleam. Little pots of blackberry and strawberry jam await the biscuits. Sliced tomatoes and peppers sit on their cut glass server beside pickled okra, pickled beets and both dill and sweat pickles.

You can hear the chicken frying and the smells emitting from the kitchen makes the mouth water. Soon the call comes. The pastor and his wife, their kids, mama and daddy, the siblings, and other guest assemble. After a rather long blessing everyone sits. Anxiously you wait for the chicken platter, praying a drumstick is left for you. Laughter rolls in waves around the table as love is dished up and enjoyed.

Laughter as echoed in the fellowship of the Missionary Society’s Christmas gathering. Pinto beans and ham hocks cook in their pot. The tables groan with cakes, breads and cookies. 35 plates will be filled for the elderly and shut-ins. Boxes await to be unpacked. 75 treat sacks will be filled with an apple, orange, orange slices, hard candy, peanut brittle, hay stacks and chocolate drops for Christmas morning. Task completed dinner will is finished.

There will be fried potatoes, asparagus with cheese, and cornbread served with slices of yellow onion and relishes. The smells mingle and entice as the left over treats are shared. Love given unselfishly.

By now your own memories are kicking in, enveloping you with warmth and hugs from yesterday. Those memories are not judged or ridiculed. They remain untouched and pristine in your mind. An anchor in these bleak times.

I was listening to a Christian teacher and motivational speaker on satellite. She was talking about how people try to pray, unnoticed, for their food in a public place. Christians, don’t want anyone to notice or responded negatively.

She went on to ask why? We are Americans, living in America with rights as citizens of this country. Where are the Christen rights to gather, pray and worship without fear of persecution? Are we

second class citizens apologizing for our beliefs?

“Can you hear the chicken frying?” Love is pouring out like sweat tea in the hot summer. Are we forgetting how many died to give us this right to gather? The ground we stand on has been drenched in their blood to secure that right. Yet, today we tremble in fear of ridicule, imprisonment and censure.

“Can you hear the chicken frying?” Stand-up for what you believe, before its to late, and our rights are forever lost! The majority does matter.

-Sandy Jordan is an area writer and a founding staff member of The Crowder Quill. She writes a weekly column, Bits and Pieces, for The Neosho Daily News. This week, her column also appears in The Aurora Advertiser.