I come from a large extended family, and we’ve always had big gatherings for holidays. One thing you could always count on: there would be a Kids’ Table. For many years, of course, there was no question as to which table I would belong. I was oh so young and after all, it was the most fun table. My cousins and I could talk about what we wanted, throw table manners to the wind, and eat 5 of my grandmother’s homemade rolls without anyone saying “you’re gonna spoil your dinner!”. Never mind that the table itself was always some type of temporary folding table that came out of hiding when needed (along with matching folding chairs), or that we had mismatched plates and glasses (the adults got the fine china). It was our table! Sometimes there was a token adult or two present, those that straggled in late or perhaps came unannounced (trust me, they were happy about their lucky last-minute good fortune).
The Adult Table consisted of, well, adults: my parents, aunts & uncles, and at either end, my grandparents. My grandmother rarely sat down though, as she always felt she had to serve us, constantly check the rolls in the oven, and keep cooking seconds, thirds & desserts. Now having four kids myself, I completely understand her plight. Her food was the best we’d ever tasted and we always wanted more, more, more!
Just being a part of the Kids’ Table is fun, but here are some ideas to make it even more fun:
- Use craft paper as a table runner, set out crayons or markers, and let kids go to town drawing or playing tic-tac-toe. They can also use the paper to write what they are thankful for (not a bad idea for the Adult Table too!).
- Set the table with holiday-themed plates (paper or not), napkins & cups.
- Download a crossword puzzle app such as Crossword Hobbyist, then design one around relatives & special places…this provides hours of fun!
- Use a website like Really Color to turn family photos into coloring pages.
- Have kids write down what they are thankful for on slips of paper and place them in a jar. Read them aloud in front of the whole family later.
- Set up a cookie or cupcake decorating bar.
My grandmother’s passing left one lonely open seat at the table. Who would fill it? Since I was the oldest grandchild, I was the natural choice. My dad approached it like something akin to a presidential election. “Do you want to move to the Adult Table?”, he asked in a serious voice, long before the holidays that year. “You know you can never go back to the Kids’ Table if that’s what you decide.” Once made, the choice would be set in stone.
It wasn’t a hard decision for me. I would forever remain at the Kids’ Table, where it’s okay to fall backwards in your chair, stick asparagus up your nose and set the table on fire (those things actually happened once, along with many other shenanigans). My cousins and I often gather for a “Kids’ Table Reunion”, along with our children. The only difference is now we have two Kids’ Tables.
Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours, at whatever table you’re sitting!