Table For Six

Thus far, almost a year in, Bill and I have outrun the COVID virus. Our family has not been entirely spared, as our niece Maggie had a mild case. She had few symptoms, but is only now starting to get her sense of smell and taste back.

Given this fact, I have almost no reason to complain. No reason to whine. No excuses for wah wah wah’s. Still, I’m sick of cooking. I’m tired of trying to figure out something to cook that we haven’t eaten several hundred times in the past nine months. I hate washing pots and pans.

My mother fixed dinner nearly every day of her adult life. She married when she was 21. She died when she was 68. That’s a lot of meals. The dinners she prepared were not fancy. Meat and potatoes every evening . Vegetables from cans, like a true 1950s homemaker. No quiche. No poached salmon with dill. Don’t get me wrong. Dad and Mom went out to dinner regularly, but she cooked many family dinners.

Welcome to the 50s, 60s, and 70s. That’s how things rolled back in those days. Keep in mind, however, that Mom was a working mother long before it became commonplace. She and Dad had a business that took a ton of his time, but a significant amount of her time as well. And just like Ginger Rogers danced as well as Fred Astaire but in heels, Mom worked hard at the bakery and then came home and helped with homework and single-handedly prepared a meal.

I loved my mother’s cooking. She was a practical cook. As I stated earlier, she prepared meat and a starch. Dad had his fill of the Heavenly Hash that Grammie often made for dinner during the Great Depression. He told me on several occasions that he actually LIKED the food while in the Navy. Always meat and no heavenly hash, he would say.

Our house was small, even smaller than I remember. Jen had the opportunity to visit inside a few years ago and was astounded at how small it was. But we had a kitchen table that fit six, and there were six at the table most every night. We all sat in the same spot. No switcharoonies. Dad at one end and Mom at the other. I sat by my dad on one side, and my brother sat by my mom on the same side. Jen and Bec sat on the other side. Jen sat by Dad, and would put her bones on his plate when she thought he wasn’t looking. Clean Plate Club. My brother and I would fight about which one of us got the juice from the vegetable cans. I was drawn to the canned peas. Nowadays I would happily let him have the juice.

To this day, on the rare occasions that Bill and I sit at our kitchen table in Denver, he sits at the end, and I sit next to him. No exceptions. He was brought up with the same scenario — six crowded around a small metal kitchen table, all sitting in the same spots every night.

I don’t know if families these days are as rigid. What I do know is that one night when we were eating dinner with Court and his family, I took a seat at the table. Mylee looked at me with a frown. “Nana,” she said. “That’s Daddy’s seat.”

So I moved.

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