I don’t ever remember getting to sit at the “children’s table” at Thanksgiving. At Grandma Miller’s it was a small red table with metal folding legs and two matching chairs and two improvised ones. There was no improvising about the order we ate though. As soon as “amen” was echoed around the table, mom and grandma would fill plates and the “children’s table” were served first.
I was one of the “older girls” and had to stick it out with a fancy table cloth, the best silver and china, a gravy boat, and crystal pickle dish. While at the “children’s table” there was the inevitable burst of laughter every few minutes, and olives displayed on each of their fingers, we were encouraged to keep our elbows off the table and pass the food to the right.
Some years we had Thanksgiving at Grandma Hatch’s house. I remember we’d sing as we drove past white, rolling potato farms that gave way to a mountain pass cut through pine forested slopes and accompanied by the icy Snake River. Dad would start, and we’d all chime in, “Over the River and Through the Woods.” There was always drifting snow. It was a more relaxed get-together and usually involved sleigh riding afterwards.
Some years we hosted the event at our house and both grandparents came. Mom would get out her china plates and serving dishes that dad brought home from Japan after his tour in Korea. Siver shown across the table from the etching on the china to the serving dish holding the stuffing. We’d pull out the chest of silverware from the drawer in the hall, and speculate on if we’d ever use the cocktail forks or desert spoons. It was the most elegant meal of the year. Even ordinary, everyday mashed potatoes and gravy tasted their best at Thanksgiving.
This year my children are coming “home” for Thanksgiving. In fact my house is now “grandma’s.” My table is a combination of formal and whimsical. Beside each goblet will be an individual oreo turkey. Sort of combining the spirit of all the dinners of my past. We’ll enjoy the best food, pausing for expressions of gratitude, laughter, memories, and hopes.
One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving is I like having a meal that is more than just the daily fare. It’s a feast—like in the days of the Old Testament—a time of celebration and praises. A day to say, this meal, this gathering of family and loved ones, these hugs of greeting, this giving of our time to prepare the best recipes, this prayer of gratitude before we begin, this bountiful table-scape, is all to celebrate the goodness and grace of our generous God.