A World View from the Children’s Table
Had we lived in New England, we might very well have been the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting. We were part of the new middle class that followed the Korean War. Families that were reconstituted as men made their way home yet again from war and began building the American Dream for themselves and their families. My earliest memories of this time come from the perspective of the children’s table on Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving may have been the single biggest holiday for my family. Both sets of grand-parents were still living and living nearby and they came and shared at the feast. My mother’s sister and my father’s brothers came and brought their children. My Aunt and Uncle, the Aunt and Uncle to which no one was related, came and brought their children and my mother always seemed to find a couple of orphans from the Air Base where she and dad worked.
The dining room table had every extension added and every chair in the house, plus the piano bench, were set in place. And there was a separate table set up in the living room for the children. One adult each year had the honor, such as it was, to sit with the children. It was this person who answered the never ending questions as to why a turkey had only two legs and were deviled eggs really from the devil?
Before any of us sat, we stood. Because most of my family were Baptist we were always blessed to have at least one person who had recovered from their backsliding ways, had been re-baptized that year and who wanted to offer the Thanksgiving prayer.
There was something special about the Thanksgiving prayer because it was not just grace but a prayer of joy and rejoicing.
This was the fifties and my concept of the world, my understanding of Thanksgiving, was like the gospel lesson of this evening. I did not worry about anything. I did not worry about when or what clothes I wore. A pair of jeans and a white tee shirt seemed to work for me at every social setting. The view from the children’s table saw no racism, bigotry, or misogyny. Anything that cost more than a dollar was outside the concept of economy. While the world view from the children’s table may have been unsophisticated it was charming in it lack of cynicism.
But the day came that I graduated to the table in the dinning room. By the time I was in the sixth grade, I had developed too much savoir faire to be eating with the children. I know I didn’t think of it at the time but not only did I leave behind the best part of childhood, I also lost the childlike innocence that all of us must experience.
Paul told the Church at Corinth, and he tells the church of today, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” There is that time, isn’t there, when we put an end to our childish ways. There is a time that we move from a protected, provincial view to a more urbane understanding and when we do, we start to worry.