Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Almost there

Remember these? We had multiple sets, I think we had the Indians, too. It was my job to set the table with the good cloth napkins and the Thanksgiving candles. They'd burn for a little while, the pilgrim man had a hole in his hat that got bigger each year.

We rarely ate together as a family, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Dad was at sea every two years and Mom didn't eat with us so it was my brothers and I in the kitchen trying to find ways to get the dog to eat our canned peas. Remarkably, we all came out of it with pretty good table manners just getting through those few family dinners. "Leah, Leah, strong and able, get your elbows off the table." In fact, we were so well trained that I remember a trip from Virginia to Cleveland to visit grandparents when we stopped at this really great diner that we loved to eat at. It was at an ideal spot right between the Pennsylvania and Ohio Turnpikes. They had foot-long roasted hot dogs and milkshakes made with real ice cream, and they gave you those metal containers that held another good half glassful. Anyway, all five of us were finishing up with our dinner and my Little Brother got up and started to take his plate to the kitchen. (Clear your place was one of those lessons.) He was only about 5 or 6 and was very confused when Mom called him back.

I do enjoy dining with people with good manners, or even decent manners, or at least someone who doesn't huddle over his plate and shovel in the food.

Thursday I'll be over at my friend's who hosts her family and assorted orphans (all with good manners). I've spent the majority of my recent San Francisco Thanksgivings there, frequently as sous chef (slicing and blanching parsnips, turnips and rutabags for root vegetable casserole - smells like old tennis shoes, but just add enough cream and cheese and you've got something delicious). And since I can't drive home this time, maybe I'll drink a little more champagne than usual. I have to let her know I need car service to and fro.

My eyes are tiring more easily since my diagnosis. I think part of it is that I'm working at home with my laptop, in my lap, which doesn't allow me the mobility that I have at work, where I can get up and move the monitor around and all that. I also think that since I have an actual diagnosis, the denial has a harder time staying in play. If that makes sense.


Lisa said...

Yeah, maybe some of that is just a form of letting go -- letting go of the idea that your vision might be better if you did XYZ. It's out of your hands and in those of someone capable, and you can go eat some turkey and drink some champagne and relax, hon!

I also grew up eating separately from my parents, but as an only child no one ever took the time to see if I had good manners or not. I remember going to my best friend's house for dinner at age 6 or 7 and having her father ask me incredulously, "Were you raised in a barn?" Well yes, or at least by wolves. I have pretty decent manners now, although every so often I catch myself in some odd habit -- picking my teeth comes to mind, or licking my fingers -- of a little kid eating alone in front of the TV every night.

Kaethe said...

We had those pilgrim candles too! Regular tall candles were lighted, so that those could maintain their festive adorableness.

Holidays were special not for the eating together--we almost always ate dinner together--but because we ate in the dining room without the TV on.

Leah said...

Lisa, I am also a teeth picker and finger licker, but I think if one does those things with intention, not because one doesn't know any better, it's a whole different kettle of fish. I do belive I'm a manners snob.