Saturday, February 26, 2011

a chinese take-out spread on the dining room table

 There is one meal that makes me laugh when I remember it.
One night my cousin invited me to her late parents' home that she was in the process of selling. We needed to connect together for some business. It was a hurried time to say the least because she was packing up all the remains of the house. There was no need to be apologetic for the sparseness of the dining room, but still she did with a little sigh in her voice.
We sat at a magnificent French Provincial table with Chinese takeout spread around in their tidy little boxes- not an elegant centerpiece, nor sterling silver and china plates in sight. It was strange at first to be back eating at the table where our families had gathered for fancy holiday dinners when we were growing up. I felt uncomfortable, and wasn't sure that I even wanted to be there with all those memories tugging at me.
Then my cousin in her way of making light of heavy moments began to giggle. I looked over at her and I couldn't help myself either. We laughed and laughed over how her mother would not have understood paper napkins, cardboard takout boxes and plastic forks on the table as proper etiquette at all. I believe my mom was more flexible, and she would have enjoyed the joke a bit herself.
We talked about the best Christmas Day dinners that we each could recall, and the ones where there was a family member missing for health reasons.
When it was time for a quick clean-up, we both paused and were thankful for the wonderful times that we had as children together around the dining room table.