Remember when you were a kid and the whole family would come for Thanksgiving, but there wasn’t quite room enough for young ones at the “big table.”
It caused some consternation in our home. I had to wait until I was 13 to ascend to the table with the lace tablecloth, fine china and crystal…and, what really seemed to sparkle: all the adult conversation.
I remember being relegated at 12 ½ to babysitter status for young siblings and cousins and feeling downright insulted and left out. Who can relate to chatty little five, seven and nine year olds except members of their own kind!
So there I’d be, looking longingly into the dining room waiting for the passage of time when I, too, would be asked to “come forth.”
When I think back, none of us were very imaginative in those olden days. Our parents or aunts and uncles would set a small table and chairs in the kitchen or on a side porch and those of us who were “almost 13” would strain our ears to hear what the grownups were talking about.
It was usually politics or current events or the medical conditions of growing-older relatives. Nothing we knew anything about, but that was the point of the whole thing. We were adults in our own minds and these “people” we were forced to eat with were not.
Now, long being an adult at the big table and considering what to do and where to put this year’s kiddie table, I’m forced to make the whole experience much more fun for my much younger relatives.
There are countless ideas and photos on the Internet to help with food, décor and games. Just let your fingers do the walking and you’ll find some amazing tablescapes for kiddos.
One of the best ideas I found was wrapping the kiddie table in butcher or brown paper and putting crayons in paper cups at each place to give the young ones free play before eating. My grandson, Josh (pictured above) is always pacified coloring a placemat at a restaurant while waiting for his favorite food: rice and gravy.
One creative mother fashioned a turkey out of paper and stuffed the inside with popcorn. A great idea, since making a fidgety kid eat like the grownups once he’s played and rolled all over the house is silly. Popcorn, grapes and dip with carrot sticks might make a less discerning palate pleased to no end.
Another Internet mother made Indian headdresses for each child at the kiddie table making the whole experience seem much more fun than eating at the big table. I could just see my younger nieces and nephews putting on their feathers and taking pictures of each other with their cell phones–yep, they all have cell phones.
Alas, I have finally given up trying to control cell phone use at the kiddie table—but at the big table with my mother’s linen placemats, no way will I allow a phone.
So, for all those 12 ½ year olds who long to grow older faster, I feel your pain, I really do. But this year, I’m going to make that kiddie table so fun and colorful, they won’t miss eating with the adults one bit.