The Grove Grinder, what Thanksgiving is all about

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Well, the holidays are here and as always, it is amazing how quickly the season sneaks up on me. In many ways, that’s part of the fun. For many people, the holidays are a time they dread, not because of the hustle and bustle it always brings, but because of the depression. Discussions abound on why, but I believe in most cases it is brought on by loneliness. People reflect on their lives, miss those that are gone and in many cases have no one to share the holidays with.

Well, the holidays are here and as always, it is amazing how quickly the season sneaks up on me. In many ways, that’s part of the fun. For many people, the holidays are a time they dread, not because of the hustle and bustle it always brings, but because of the depression. Discussions abound on why, but I believe in most cases it is brought on by loneliness. People reflect on their lives, miss those that are gone and in many cases have no one to share the holidays with.

I understand the depression of the holidays. I am grateful that my family is all here, our kids and grandchildren, but there is part of me that is pulled to the South where my siblings live. Our parents are gone and as I grow older, I find the desire to go home more urgent. I miss not being with my family, when they get together.

There isn’t a day that I don’t think about my parents. But what used to be a pang in my heart are now wonderful memories and lessons that I carry with me every day. 

My mother was radiant, and every time I look into my oldest sister’s face, I see the same beauty. My father was quiet yet he was extremely funny. I see that in my brothers. All of them have characteristics that bring back treasured moments. It is witnessed in our time together and my heart needs that from time to time.

I have spent many holidays away from home, especially while deployed. In a perfect world, no one should spend the holidays alone. Servicemen uphold military tradition, inviting those that aren’t able to go home to their families for the holidays, to celebrate with them. And even more remarkable are the people that volunteer their holidays by allowing these men and women that serve our country to spend the days with them.

Meet the Jones’. 

Robert Jones, a 25-year Navy man, always opened up his home to the military for the holidays. It was a strong part of his family’s tradition. But that almost changed in 2005, when he passed away.  This tradition however survives with the help of his wife Sharon (or known by many as, ‘Grandma’).

Three generations of the Jones family opened up The Grove Grinder. It is a remarkable place, with amazing sandwiches and an eclectic assortment of root beers and sodas (ice cold and in a bottle!) and Grandma Sharon’s award winning chili.

After her husband’s death, the holidays became difficult for the Jones family. Their son Skeeter figured out a way to take part of the burden of the holidays away, and replace it with the family’s long-standing tradition. They do it by giving.

Since their loss, every Thanksgiving, the Jones’ open up the restaurant with a full course traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings. But here is the best part. Along with family and friends, they prepare this feast for free for any service members that cannot make it home, or have no family to go home to for the holidays. They also invite law enforcement, firefighters on duty that are not able to spend the day with their families. They do this in honor of Dad, still waning to keep his belief in helping those that are in need during the holidays by giving them a warm, loving place to spend what could have been a lonely holiday.

Cheers to the Jones’ and the many other people out there that do not forget the lonely during the holiday season! The world is a better place because of them.

If you want a real sandwich, or need a family to spend Thanksgiving with, go see Grandma Sharon. The Grove Grinder is located at 3345 Olive Street in Lemon Grove. They open their doors at 11:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and usually close between 7 or 8 p.m., depending on the crowd.

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