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The Kids' Table: A Trick? Or a Treat?

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KIDS TABLE MANNERS
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Every holiday, it happens.

There's not enough room at the 'big people's' table so your Grandmother, Mom, You, someone digs out a rickety old card table with rusted, mismatched folding chairs from the garage, throws a stained tablecloth on it and calls it the kids' table. This table is usually put in the already-crowded kitchen, unheated porch, hallway, TV room... wherever there is room.

No one over the age of 14 ever wants to sit at the kids' table. Why?

The kids' table can be made up of several different people. There could be toddlers; grade schoolers; tweens; teens; that one unmarried Aunt that shows up for the holidays; the new mom who has to watch her tiny one so they don't choke while eating cut up pieces of turkey; you name it. Anyone could end up at the kids' table for a number of reasons. Why do people get so bent out of shape if they have to 'take one for the team' and sit there? Why is giving up a spot at the adult table for someone who may seem more worthy this year such a big deal? If they could only be a little more open-minded, they would see that the kids' table is where all of the good stuff happens.

I've had to sit at the kids' table many times in my adult life. Whether it is because of having little ones in high chairs, or just being the 'martyr' of the family and saying, "no, you go ahead and sit with the adults, I'll sit at the little table," I've been there and have to say, it's a lot more fun than not.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind if you are in a position to make a move to the kids' table this year.....

1. Kids are much more fun than adults. You will most likely hear more entertaining stories at this table; brutal, blatant honesty about life in general; and have more belly laughs than you would at the adult table.

2. It is socially acceptable at the kids' table to do things that are frowned upon at the adults' table. Burping, farting, blowing bubbles in milk and eating mashed potatoes like Randy from A Christmas Story is not only acceptable, but expected at this table.

3. The kids get served first. Want your pick of the buffet items? The kids are ushered through the kitchen first, so if you are picked or volunteered for the kids' table, you have a right to get in line behind 5-year-old cousin Timmy. You do risk cousin Timmy spilling his wobbly paper plate on your foot, thus covering your new wedge boots in gravy, but this is a risk you will need to take in your position. (This brings us to another point -- you will most likely be eating on Chinet or something less sturdy at the kids' table -- good news comes with eating on paper plates -- you are absolved of dish-duty.)

4. There is always a toddler you can blame things on. Spills? Food on the Floor? 1/2 chewed brussel sprouts spit into a napkin? Just. Blame. The. Toddler.

5. Fun foods on the menu at the kids' table. There is always that one child at the holidays that is a picky eater. They don't eat turkey, they hate green beans, they gag at the thought of stuffing. If your family is like mine, there is inevitably a plate of chicken fingers at the kids' table only to ensure they have something of substance to eat before the almighty dessert table is visited. So if you are seated at the kids' table, you may get to indulge in some kid-happy food like chicken fingers and pizza bites or something of the sort. If you are at one of those Pottery Barn-type Thanksgivings where the hostess actually goes all out on the kids' table, you may even find a chocolate favor or something like it at your place setting. BONUS!

6. No one notices how much wine you are drinking. Kids at the table are not going to pay attention to how many times you have refilled your wine glass (or in this case, whine glass?). At the adult table, you may be silently judged for how much sauce (not cranberry) you are taking in to help get you through the holiday madness. No one cares if you spill on the already-soiled tablecloth either. If you are at the adults' table and spill your wine, you will be marked for life.

7. At the kids' table, you get honest answers. Is the stuffing dry? You will hear about it. They will just plain old say "this is disgusting..." If someone burps/farts, they will admit it proudly and belly laugh about it for the next five minutes. No topic is off-limits, however, topics will most likely be limited to video games, possible Christmas/Hanukkah presents to come, Legos and Barbies. If you ask them what they are thankful for, you will get honest, simple answers such as their Wii, candy and Sponge Bob. One more perk... if you have spinach in your teeth, they will flat out tell you so.

8. You can be as loud as you want there. At the kids' table, there is no limit on how much noise you can make. You want to throw your head back and cackle loudly at a joke? Go ahead. Maybe you've had a few too many glasses of egg nog and are feeling a little obnoxious? No problem. At the kids' table, no one really cares. The louder, the better -- there are no etiquette rules at this table. Oh, another perk -- they laugh at all of your jokes, too.

9. You can get the dirt on loved ones here. Want to hear the skinny on what's really going on in the family? Here's a good place to get all the dirt. You could ask an innocent-yet-probing type of question and sit back and listen as each child tries to shout out and even top the answers regarding their family's habits. These tidbits of information may come in handy later at other holiday gatherings.

10. No one cares if you clean your plate. If the parents and other adults are in at the big table, trying to enjoy their hot, spectacular holiday meal, then no one really is paying attention to who ate all of their dinner, who gets dessert and whatnot. So you didn't particularly care for the so-dry-it-sticks-in-your-throat turkey? You can put it on one of the other kid's plates next to you and not be judged. At our big fat Greek dinners oooohhh, if you get caught leaving food on your plate, my Yia Yia will start crying and say, "didn't you like my stuffing? Yia Yia made it just the way you like it..." At our functions, all foods are (not-so) secretly infused with guilt.

Whether you are at the adults' table or at the infamous kids' table, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. May you find the joy in the holiday no matter where you sit. Remember to be thankful for what you have, not just on Thanksgiving, but all of the days in between.

Cheers, burps and giggles, this is me signing off from the Kids' Table,

~DG