Thanksgiving week continues here on the blog. This time with the phenomenon of the kids table (discussed briefly in an earlier post this week). I’m posting a little early today since we’re going to be out and about all day before going to visit some friends in the evening. Anyway, let’s get down to it so I can get my stuff together and check out of the casino before incurring a charge for another night.
My family certainly wasn’t the only family to have a separate kid table and adult table at Thanksgiving. Indeed, it seems to be an almost universal phenomenon. However, most people seem to regard sitting at the kid table as a bad thing and it is a rite of passage when one graduates from the kid table and gets to sit at the adult table. This was not the case in my family. In fact, I never did graduate to the adult table. I still sat at the kids table at the last big family Thanksgiving celebration we had. Some of the adults who had previously sat at the adult table demoted themselves to the kid table in fact.
I suppose some of this could have come from the fact that we didn’t have a large amount of kids born in the family after the round I was a part of. There were a few, but not many, and the table upstairs in the kitchen only held so many people. Someone had to sit at the table downstairs in the basement.
Now, at first it really was a kids table. It was just me, my sister, and the cousins. One of the adults was usually sent down to eat with us to keep order, but it was just us kids for the most part. However, as the years went on, this changed. More and more adults upstairs fought to come down to the kids table. Or, rather, to get away from the adult table.
I think some of this was related to the atmosphere of the adult table. My paternal grandfather was in charge of the adult table and though I love my grandfather, he could be a real son of a bitch. I think my father and aunt would tell you as much. He was a career military officer and often acted like it, though apparently he could be as brittle and have as much of an anger problem even before he was in the service. Regardless, he wanted an extremely formal dinner table. No fun at all, unless he was the one cracking the jokes. Then everyone had to laugh or he’d get pissy. Grandma wasn’t much help. She tended to back grandpa up, and she was old school German Lutheran anyway. Formal was second nature.
The kid table, on the other hand, was largely an informal affair where the jokes stopped (most of the time) just short of making people lose their appetite. Most importantly, my grandfather was not there to get upset by the friviolity at dinner. It was just more fun so people more and more tried to go eat downstairs. Sometimes grandpa got pissy about it and someone had to eat upstairs with him. They were often pissy about this fact themselves.
Interestingly, at least to me, given the formal and reverent nature of the dinner upstairs (rumor and overheard phenomenon to me only since I always ate at the kid table), as how they prayed up there. Led, of course, by my grandfather, it was the fastest prayer I’ve ever heard. We used to sit quiet downstairs to hear them and then laugh for a while. It went something like “comlrdjessbrgestanletthesegfts2usbblssdamn” in the space of about ten seconds. I guess they were hungry. Still given how rigid the atmosphere was, I’m surprised the prayer was allowed to be mangled in such a fashion every time, without even a thought about it, in the interests of efficiency and getting to the meal. After the prayer, the upstairs adult table was no longer of any interest as they would just quietly eat. At that point, the kid table went back to its own inappropriate humor.
Whatever, the reasons exactly (though I think the atmosphere and my grandfather played a large role, unless people just didn’t like having to try not to pass out while praying so fast), the kid table was a growing tradition at Thanksgiving dinners in my family. As I said above, I never even tried the adult table. We don’t even gather en masse like that anymore since the family is much smaller these days, but I suspect if we did (even though grandpa is gone now), the first thing we would sort out is who gets to sit at the kids table.