Tomorrow, many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving by eating an array of bountiful and delicious foods.
And so today, I’d like to post one of the few stories I can remember about a family meal. It took place on an autumn evening in November 1944 when I was eight and in the third grade.
The rule for family meals was that all four of us ate everything that was put on our plate. Mom dished up the food and passed it down the table, which was rectangular. At each end, sat Mom and Dad. My little brother and I sat next to one another on one long side. The opposite long side was against the dining-room wall.
On this particular evening, Mom passed Dad his plate. Then mine came down the table: meat, potatoes, a slice of buttered bread, and a mound of cauliflower hidden underneath some white stuff.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“White sauce. You’ve never had it before, but I think you’ll like it.”
“Looks like paste.”
“Try it.” She passed my brother his plate and then dished up hers.
I eyed the paste. “I’m not eating this.”
“Dolores, you know the rule. We eat everything on our plate.”
“You’ll sit there until you do, Young Lady.”
The meat tasted as good as mother’s cooking always tasted. The boiled potatoes with butter were delicious as was the bread and butter. The paste congealed.
Time passed. Mom excused my little brother from the table when he had gobbled down his supper. Dad ate his meal, settled in his easy chair, and read the newspaper.
Mom removed everything from the table except my plate, glass, and cutlery. Then she sang as she did the dishes. That night the strains of a Cole Porter song drifted into the dining room.
More time passed. I stared at the wall. From the living room came the laugher of the “Fibber McGee and Molly” radio audience. After the program ended, I looked to my right and saw my brother playing with his Lincoln logs. Mom played solitaire. Dad read.
For long minutes, I stared at the paste, my elbows on the table holding up my drooping head. Then I tried my defiance again. “Mom, I’m not going to eat this stuff.”
“Don’t argue, Dolores. You know our family rule about food.”
“I’m sleepy, Mom. Can’t I go to bed?”
“When you eat everything on that plate.”
More time passed. Dad went to bed. My brother fell asleep on the living room floor and Mom carried him to our bedroom. I sat, my head sinking lower.
The next I knew, I was opening my eyes to a strange view—the rim of the plate. I lifted my head from where it rested on the cauliflower.
“Mom, can I go to bed now?”
“When you eat what’s left on your plate.”
I grimaced as I ate the sauce-covered cauliflower, which was cold. It did taste like paste. Only saltier.
“I did it,” I announced sleepily. “Can I go to bed now?”
I rose from the table, carried my dishes into the kitchen, and went to kiss my mother goodnight. When I leaned over her, she said, “Dolores, some white sauce is sticking to your cheek. Why don’t you go and wipe it off with the dishrag?”
I scrubbed my face clean of the accursed mess and afterward crawled into bed and slept.
The upshot of this is that I ate all the white sauce Mom served in the years that followed, but I’ve never been a fan of creamed peas or fettuccini Alfredo or melted white cheese. All pasty.
· On Black Friday, I want to say “Thank-you” to the Universe for the many blessings of my life. So that day, I’m offering on Amazon free e-book copies of A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story and A Cat’s Legacy: Dulcy’s Story (which used to be entitled Twelve Habits of Highly Successful Cats and Their Humans).
· If you have an e-reader and would like to read one or both, please download them on Friday. And if you have friends who love felines and other animals or who would be interested in the philosophy of a cat and her human, please let those friends know about this offer.
· As you know, all they need do is click under the two covers that are displayed on the right-hand side of this blog.
· Also, my niece Melissa and my blogging buddy Elisa have helped me establish a Facebook fan site. Elisa suggested I add the following code here to let you know about it. I’m not at all sure about Facebook nor exactly what a “fan” page is, but I’ll give it a try.
All photographs are from Wikipedia.