There was the Thanksgiving dinner when Tom foolheartedly held up a turkey leg and, in a left field attempt to compliment me, grinned and said “this skin is like tree bark“. A hush fell over the crowd, everyone else put their heads down, stopped eating mid-bite and waited for the wrath of Penelope. He still claims he meant it as a compliment. Sad to say and knowing the ways of my Antler Man, I know he meant it as a compliment, but, hey, I’m milking this one for at least another 10 years. The funny thing is that it was an exceptionally good turkey that he, the esteemed chewer of bark and apple cores, and who-knows-what-else, ordered it himself, fresh from the butcher where he often stopped to get a sandwich and soup, making me wonder if he had ever had a crunchy bark sandwich with turkey breast on caraway rye – hold the mayo.
As a child, our Thanksgiving table was always crowded. My cousins, who lived next door, would often be with us. My aunt and uncle would sometimes have guests at their house, but, because we were close in age and lived next to each other and because we shared a grandmother, who lived in our house, and because they adored my father, their Uncle Pete, and because Teddy and I were only 26 days apart in age and similar in temperament, and, well, just because they were family, there was always room at the table.
Did your childhood celebrations come with a kid’s table? Mine did in our small house with a small kitchen and no dining room. The kid’s table was set in the tiny hallway off of the kitchen. It was just large enough to set places for four, though there were times when we squeezed in a few more. My sister, my next door cousins and me. It was a gray formica table with red plastic chairs and chrome legs that seemed to take up too much space and was a challenge for a klutz like me! The hallway was the passageway to two of the bedrooms, the livingroom and, of course, the bathroom. It was pure chaos if an adult needed to use the facilities. I don’t know how we got our food from the kitchen. My mind is blank, the memories faded. A grown-up would fill up each plate, I am certain, but all I really cared about was the once a year chestnut dressing. My sister and I wore pretty party dresses, often matching, that were buoyed by layers of flouncy slips and I can still hear my mother saying “don’t spill” – just as one of us did. To leave the table you had to slide down off of your plastic throne, feet first, somehow get on all fours, and then crawl underneath the table to get out of the hallway. Do I need to mention the three pairs of legs waiting below in eager anticipation, or the morsels of food that somehow missed four mouths and landed on the floor? Try navigating all of that in a red checkered dress, whose pockets were sewn on backwards, compliments of a fire sale and my Uncle Red, and starched to Shirley Temple cuteness with buckled black patent leather shoes shined to a mirrored polish with Vaseline!
Did you have a kid’s table? Do you have one now?
Should Antler Man be banned to the kid’s table if he mentions turkey tree bark?