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The Card Table - Childhood Thanksgiving

posted 11/19/2010 3:30:49 PM |
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I posted this last year and hope people don't mind my sharing it again.

There are many things to love about Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday. But that was not so much the case when I was in junior high. Why? the seating arrangements at dinner.

The festivities would be at my grandparents' house. The beautiful walnut table in the formal dining room could seat ten. Everything would be laid out with the china and all of the scrumptious courses, often a cornucopia of ten or more offerings. The spread and presentation was worthy of the November issue of Ladies Home Journal.

There were 14 people typically: my grandparents, my parents, my great aunt and uncle, my aunt and uncle, and six kids. The problem was that my dad is 19 years older than my aunt, and she is nine years older than I am. She married young and kicked out four stair step critters.

Before my cousins entered this world, my brother and I got to be diners nine and ten at the table. But as the ducklings popped out of my aunt's oven, my brother's and my seat at the dining room table was replaced by high chairs. The kitchen table was unavailable as it was covered with the desserts staged to follow dinner, so we were relegated to the folding card table set up in the living room.

When it was just my brother and I that wasn't too bad except that my brother never could eat with his mouth closed. He loved to put the peas in his mashed potatoes prior to eating them. This was not an appetizing sight and looked something like this,

As my cousins got older and younger ones came along to take the high chairs, they joined us at the card table. Let me tell you, there is nothing a 14 year old looks forward to more than sitting at a card table dining with a three year old to the right, a four year to the left, and Mister Green Goop directly across with his mouth open. Glasses were spilled, food was thrown, little kids cried. It was pure hell.

I was finally able to convince my mom and grandmother to let me eat off of a TV tray. As the youngest cousins got old enough to forego the high chairs, all four of them shared the card table. My brother and I got to return to table to eat with the people. My cousins did not get along and it was not uncommon for dinner to be interrupted by disputes and antics coming from the card a couple of times. More than once, my aunt marched an offender out to the patio for a discussion featuring nonverbal communication.

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Nov 19 @ 3:43PM  
Ohhh yeah, I never got the card table, but Gran had these spiffy pull out cutting boards in her kitchen.. big ones.. and us kids got to sit two to a cutting board for holiday dinners. Since those always included the entire extended family and a few non family guests. Sunday dinners were just the 10 of us.. yes.. I said 10. At Holidays the house could hold as many as 20 people and often did.

I'm still the same way about holidays.. right now we share them with our neighbors in the apartment building.. we all chip in and put on a good spread.. This way, those of us who can't be with family are with good friends at least.. and no one has a lonely holiday.

Nov 19 @ 3:43PM  
There had to be more than one card table at my grandparent's house as there was usually close to 40 people there for Thanksgiving. I liked to be out of sight of the adults as my aunts tended walk about and put food on your plates that was not a favorite. My cousins and I would then start trading food on our plates until everyone was happy with what they were eating. If Thanksgiving happened to be warm we would eat at a card table on the screened in porch that went the whole front of the house. Other times we would eat in the back hall of the house. I can well remember my older cousins getting into food fights at their table which did not end well for their butts.

Nov 19 @ 5:02PM  
I was reading your blog and remembering past family painted a wonderful picture Bruce......kudos to you for doing that...........

With just the three of us here for holidays.............son not in area so its just me, daughter, and granddaugther...........but we still pull out the china and set the table.......sometimes my honey comes for dinner but I think he is going to the cities for a couple of days to see his we will set the table including the cloth napkins..............we go all out for Thanksgiving and Christmas...........and no one sets at a folding table LOL

Nov 19 @ 5:07PM  
Thanks, Dayna. I think a major factor in it diminishing the holiday for many is that families are now scattered across the nation, let alone factoring in the military. Add to that the increase in divorces probably really hitting home with our generation.

Nov 19 @ 6:22PM  
Thanksgiving in my family while growing up was family, mostly from my Mom's side, coming over to my parents house for the day. Mom has always loved cooking for Thanksgiving. She goes all out...turkey, stuffing/dressing, mashed taters, gravy, bisquits, veggie tray, and of course the pumpkin, cherry, and apple pies.

It was always a fun, festive time. Mom's kitchen isn't all that big...her kitchen table is big enough to put everything on it...but we couldn't eat at it. So...Mom had the good ole tv trays. Everyone had their own, and we congregated in the living room to watch football while having dinner. Mom, Grandma, and my 2 Aunts would be in the kitchen to keep an eye on the the dogs or the cat didn't "yield to temptation"...(btw..Raggs ALWAYS got her piece of turkey...Mom made sure of it. ). And, they didn't care for football anyway.

Nov 19 @ 6:35PM  
We never did the Full Family thingy......when I was a child!

There where 8 of our house....for several years!
After everyone grew up and reproduced ....Mom and Dad had 2 Large Kitchen tables......that most everyone sit at......from year to year....they would be a few Extra guest.....some used counter tops!!!!
Gosh I Do miss my Mom's cooking!!!! She would fix enough to feed a small army!!! Everything was always cooked to Perfection!!!
There hasn't been any Thanksgiving dinners at my Mom's 3 years!
Last year....My Bro and sister in-law brought her here for Thanksgiving dinner!
She ate and ate....

My Kids are doing there own things this year.....Separately...and both want me to come to their house!!! I guess I could Visit both of them, but they are having dinner at the same time..and live 2 hours apart!!! WTF?
Yeah I know...I'll talk to them!!!

Nov 19 @ 6:47PM  
I'm being totally honest when I say that sometimes I actually PREFER the card table over the main table. It's a lot less drama...and tons more fun sometimes. table mates weren't anything like your brother WoW.

While growing up...I rarely got sat at the card table since I was one of the older children. It's a lovely thing when you're one of the oldest kids.

I Loved your story WoW. Thanks for sharing.

Nov 19 @ 6:58PM  
My pleasure Kat, but Tommy wasn't the major problem, my younger cousins were. When they got too far off the wall and got marched off for what we called a "bottom party", Tommy and I got in trouble for laughing at justice being administered.

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The Card Table - Childhood Thanksgiving