A United Nations Thanksgiving summit with Roy and Bonnie Miller

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Valdosta State University students Juan Mora, girlfriend Colbie Spann, Finley Miller, Amr Foudah, Aylar Chikayeva, and Anastasia Vdovichenko joyously gather around a Thanksgiving dinner table inside the home of Roy and Bonnie Miller on November 26, 2020. Photography by Amanda Miller

In 1972 Miller’s Hardware unfastened its doors at 701 East Marion Avenue, indelibly impacting Berrien County’s economy for the subsequent 47 years. Former owner Roy Miller and wife-office manager Bonnie hosted a genuinely international Thanksgiving summit inside their conspicuously flat-roofed, French-designed home about a mile and a half northeast of Nashville, Georgia. Including daughters Angela [Vernon] Chambless and Amanda Miller and grandkids Colbie Spann and Finley Grace Miller, six, count ’em six, countries were compassionately acknowledged in this pointedly divided era.

Colbie, a 24-year-old chestnut-haired, spring 2020 Valdosta State University alumna, recently charted a new southbound course when she planted roots in Jacksonville. Angela’s only child applied for a lab manager position based upon her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Minor in Chemistry. Colbie kept any emerging butterflies under wraps by conquering Arabic and Spanish. Self-taught, of course. As a precursory bon voyage, she invited four VSU pals to her annual family feast.

Twenty-nine-year-old Amr Foudah is from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and is fluent in both Arabic and English. Residing in the USA since 2011, Amr graduated with a Bachelor of Communication and Master of Public Administration. He cooked a Turkish kebab for the Miller Thanksgiving.

Twenty-two-year-old Aylar Chikayeva’s home country is Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. She is proficient at an astonishing four languages — Turkmen, Russian, Turkish, and English. First coming to America in 2017, Aylar is majoring in Health Sciences and intends to become a surgeon. She is the sole Turkmenian among the South Georgia university’s 12,000-plus students. Aylar prepared Russian honey cake as well as pishme, a traditional Turkmen snack consisting of fried dough treats.

Twenty-one-year-old Anastasia Vdovichenko is a native of Syktyvkar, Russia, and handles Russian, Ukrainian, and English with aplomb. Her American dream caught fire in 2016 when she began English tuition. Now majoring in Interior Design, Anastasia’s assistance ensured Aylar’s Russian honey cake was delicious.

Twenty-year-old Juan Mora of Neiva, Colombia, is our newest transplant. His native Spanish tongue also incorporates French and English. Majoring in International Business since 2019, Juan briefly studied English in Washington, D.C., two years previously. Colbie’s boyfriend has spent plenty of occasions with her grandparents but was unsure of what to expect for his very first Thanksgiving. According to Colbie, “He wants it to be Thanksgiving every time he visits Nana and Papa. He loves their cooking!”

Fourteen-year-old Finley was adopted by Amanda Miller when she was only a day old in Panzós, Guatemala. Finley has been living in Orlando since she turned seven months old and will be an affluent anesthesiologist in the future — unless she has a change of heart.

Bonnie’s taxing four consecutive days of cooking paid off. After Roy said grace, everyone feasted on spiral ham, grilled sausage, dressing, sweet potato soufflé, mustard greens, potato salad, creamed corn, butterbeans, broccoli, homemade biscuits, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and red velvet cake. Even the former Bank of Alapaha board alum chipped in with barbecue pork ribs and a pound cake. If not for a freak grade three midfoot sprain, yours truly would have been in attendance. The extensive cooperation of Bonnie and Colbie is sincerely appreciated.

© Jeremy Roberts, 2020. All rights reserved. To touch base, email jeremylr@windstream.net and mention which story led you my way.

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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