Etiquette wasn’t everything when I was growing up, but we did learn manners, how to behave properly, how to converse without “prattling” (I always thought prattling was such a funny word), and certainly how to set a table.
On special occasions, holidays and so forth, my mom would put placecards at our particular spots at the dining room table. We often had the fun of creating the name card that would go in the placecard holder, but the spot was always reserved for the same family member. Those placecard holders are, for me, probably far more significant in my memory than my mom even knows. It may sound silly, but I could count on those placecard holders. I knew there were silvery ones for Christmas, Easter ones, Thanksgiving ones, and that my mom would not forget to get them out when the time came. She still gets them out, although we now gather at a different dining room table, in a different house in a different state. Some of the same people are there, but now my children come to the table, and my sisters children and husbands are there too.
Belonging is a feeling that you know but can’t describe. I know that I have a place at my family’s table. I know that if I wasn’t there, I would be missed. And I know that when I am there , especially at a holiday or special gathering, and one of the others isn’t, that I feel that they are missing.
My family is scattered around the country now, from North to South, but we really love to come together, especially to gather at my mom and dad’s. We laugh at the same, silly jokes, catch up on each other’s lives, and try to remember to take pictures. And when it’s time to sit at the table together? We know exactly which spot is ours.