|Thanks to Bill for this holiday photo!|
Did you sit at the Children's Table?
When I was small our family wasn't big enough to need a children's table at holiday dinners. We all fit around the country-style maple table in the living room. The grown-ups all had a creative, child-like attitude towards life. Sometimes it was hard to tell the grown-ups from the children.
When I was eight, my sister LaVerne married her sweetheart. Two years later, I was an aunt and the pink wooden tea table that my other sister, Linda, and I used for play, became the first of a series of extra holiday tables. LaVerne's family grew to four children, and we soon outgrew the two tables. Grampy made a card table out of piece of compressed wood that he found at the dump. Sometimes Grampy would sit at the table with the youngest kids, sometimes Linda or I would. Eventually as Linda married and had two children, we all moved to several card tables snuggled together in the living room.
After dessert, we cleared the tables of the embroidered tablecloths that Mimi made and played cards: Gin Rummy, Pit, or Blackjack. We played for fun not for competition, and laughed our way through the day.
Other times, we just packed up the card tables, the kids ran outside to play, the men played darts against one of the towering maple trees in the backyard, and the women spent the afternoon in the kitchen cleaning and talking. When the women were done, they came outside to join the rest of the family. Dad brought out the horseshoes, and we all tried for that satisfactory clang when the horseshoe landed around the metal target. We played ping pong at the table set up on the lawn, or we played a raucous game of Hide and Seek.
When I married Bill, he joined right in with the play. He could make the kids laugh till they couldn't stop. He cheated at board games so that we never finished a game because of the pretend fights we had, and he easily fit at the tables in the living room. He had the right kind of quirkiness, so he stayed.
By the time our son Theo came along, my nieces and nephews were having children of their own, my dad and grandparents had passed away, all three sisters lived in different parts of California. Our gatherings in the living room were more and more infrequent. We realized at Mom's funeral that all twenty-two of us who were left had not been together for a decade. We missed those days of sitting around card tables on holidays.
After her graveside service, we went to my niece Kim's community clubhouse and ate pizza, played card games around tables, and laughed about the days of holiday dinners in my parents' living room sitting at the tables that we never called Children's Tables.