This was an Editor's Pick on Open Salon on Wednesday, December 28, 2010.
We need two large tables for Herman's family at Christmas. One for the adults and one for the kids. That definition of who sits at what table is changing. Our niece and nephew, age 26 and 29, chose to eat in the basement with the kids this year.
Why? Because they are more fun, they said.
For nearly fifty years members of this family have gathered on Christmas day at my Herman's oldest brother's house. He was a pre-schooler when his brother (who is 17 years older) and his wife had their first child.
Herman has had Christmas dinner at this same table for many holidays over the past five decades. Where his grandparents sat at the adult table, now we Baby Boomers occupy the oak chairs. I've only been coming to this family gathering for about twenty-six years, so I only have half the history.
Herman, the youngest son, only moved up to the adult table when he married me. Now we are the youngest of the older generation. His mother passed away in January, now his brother nearing seventy, is the family elder.
His grandsons represent the younger generation. The youngest is Jon who speaks his mind. At a recent family outing someone said something to Jon about his high school graduation. Jon said, "What does it matter? You'll all be dead."
He is eight. On the day he came home from kindergarten his mother asked him how it was. Jon said, "It sucked."
That is the result of having two older brothers close in age. He always keeps the conversation lively.
On Christmas the younger generation stayed in the basement most of the day playing Catch Phrase and Smart Ass. This is a game-playing family. Before electronic games, it was dominoes. After the dishes are washed, the desserts are put away, the present exchange is over, then it is game time.
I asked my son why he preferred to stay downstairs with his cousins. He said, "Well, when I came upstairs Aunt Pat was having a cashew-tasting contest." He doesn't think that is exciting. The big, plump cashews from Anna Lynn's in Kentucky won, just in case you were interested. Nobody liked the fresh roasted one.
I'm sorry he feels this way because he missed the stimulating, engaging discussion after dinner, Miracle Whip versus mayonnaise. I can't understand why he finds this boring. We were so overwrought by this discussion that we all fell asleep in our chairs, visions of sugarplums and Sugar Cream pies dancing in our dreams.