Catherine’s Table stories explore the heart of a family, the soul in quiet living, and the power of love. I also write about living with mental illness because sharing stories opens minds.
Catherine’s Table is named in honor of my Aunt Kay who is my second mom. She taught me how to find joy and comfort in everything we did. I spent countless summer nights at her table where I learned what it means to be a family.
A Little ThanksgivingMaureen Goldman
We’re having the littlest Thanksgiving tomorrow. Just the four of us, and I’m perfectly happy. I would love to have a bigger group, but the local relatives have other plans. They’re driving back from a house hunting trip on Thanksgiving Day. Cousin Rosemary can’t fly from California. She shattered her ankle skiing. Another cousin thinks our dinners are a bit formal so she’s going to see her wife’s family in North Carolina. We’ll all catch up at Christmas.
I can understand how she feels. We put out the fine china and silver and talk about books, movies and politics. It’s probably boring, but we really enjoy our family dinners. As a child, I loved listening to the political discussions at my Aunt Kay’s table. Auntie Anne was a rabid Republican with a huge personality. She would wave her arms and shout about Nixon while her second husband sat in silence. We kids watched her with sullen amazement and occasionally whispered back and forth since we didn’t want to interrupt her. I was so scared that she might speak to me. Seated at the head of the table, in an inconceivable state of calm, Aunt Kay offered a warm smile and encouraged us to keep the condiments moving.
Aunt Kay is super creative and crafty. She set a beautiful table with handmade napkin rings and striking flower arrangements. I’ll never understand how she kept all the food warm with so many options on the sideboard. And the dishes in the kitchen. There were crooked piles everywhere. The whole event was both magical and horrifying. Somehow the kitchen was clean the next day and the leftovers ready for picking. Football was on in the den, and children were piled on each other in various states of dress.
My dad sat in a chair for the day in his ever present Brooks Brothers khakis. The same chair that formerly occupied the sunroom in my grandparent’s house. The green cane looked good in Aunt Kay’s den too. There was no chance of moving my dad. Around noon he’d say, “Hey Maureen, why don’t you go get me some turkey and stuffing? Don’t forget the gravy.” I’d grumble and get up. Not too put out. I had zero interest in my dad’s favorite sport so missing a big play was fine. Plus, I’d get to linger in the kitchen, hoping Aunt Kay had time to talk to me.
The four of us, Matt, Mark, Emma and I will linger at the Thanksgiving table. Unfortunately, Matt’s fiancee Joey will stay in Denver to study. We’ll discuss the impeachment hearings, and more importantly, the recent history of Ukraine. Then I’ll go on and on about the courage and constancy of the men and women working at the US State Department, making a completely unsubtle point. Then we’ll watch one of those gut busting movies like The Godfather.
It could be that with the exception of a couple of cousins, we’re the only ones in our family who enjoy this kind of Thanksgiving. It’s a good thing we have each other. I hope you and your family have a peaceful day with all the trimmings large and small.