Friday, November 25, 2011

At My Dining Room Table

For Thursday, November 24, 2011

I often think back on my childhood and the number of times I sat at the dining room table surrounded by my large family. I still see the crowd of people sitting there talking with food being passed around. The youngest of five children with a distance of 10-16 years between me and my siblings, I was the quiet little girl who sat in the middle of a sea of adults. I felt safe and protected by them. And later when my nephew came along, I began finding my role in entertaining the little guy who was always seated next to me. One thing I wish I could do however is to go back and see clearly the expression on my Mom’s face as she looked around the table watching everyone enjoying the meal she had prepared.

For the past twenty years, I have hosted Thanksgiving at my own home. It was important to me to have our own family traditions once our first child was born, so in 1992 Eric and I stopped traveling to our parents’ houses for the holidays. We were lucky to have understanding Moms and Dads who never balked at this. Of course, quite noticeably, my own dining room table is much smaller than my parents’. Yet, somehow, each Thanksgiving, I manage to squeeze in a fairly large group of 8-10. I often wish I had a larger room for these events but I suppose it’s okay the way it is. Our accommodations are cozy. What’s more important is the way in which we all come together. For years we have hosted my parents and Eric’s Mom and Dad, and often Eric’s brother Joel too. The company is always enjoyable and with my three children relatively close in age, the conversations often erupt into laughter during our meals.

The food used to magically appear on the dining room table of my childhood. Nowadays I understand how the magic works. But I love to cook and bake so I never see entertaining as a chore. The dining room of my childhood was away from the kitchen where the piles of dirty dishes stood. At my house, I try to take a seat with my back to the kitchen counters so I can pretend they don’t exist. But in truth, it’s a rare day when doing the dishes is something I don’t see as being a normal part of the routine of entertaining. There is something quite comforting actually in putting away the leftover foods and loading the dishwasher. The time it takes to clean up allows more opportunity for a family to work together and to talk. That wasn’t something I recognized when I was a child.

Tonight after the Thanksgiving meal had been cooked, eaten, and put away, I sat down in the family room surrounded by my children, husband, and brother-in-law. My husband’s parents had left and my son and his uncle were in a heated game of football on the wii. As I pulled a woolen throw over myself, balancing a piece of pie, I took a deep breath and smiled. It is a blessing to be the Mom who hosts Thanksgiving dinner. I suppose I don’t really need to go back in time for that chance to see my Mom’s face as everyone gathered around her dining room table. I am pretty sure she wore the same expression I wore today. This Mom is happy.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you guys had a lovely day. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.