Christmas Dinner. Meet the parents. After three years of dating it was finally happening. I carefully chose a white angora sweater and a blue plaid Bobbi Brooks skirt; it was 1970 and people still dressed up for holiday dinners. I was nervous. Not only was I meeting the parents, but three brothers, two sisters-in-law, and a niece and nephew.
Roger’s Mom, Florence, made everything for dinner from scratch; fried chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, pies, and yeast rolls. I had no idea if others helped but I doubted it. Florence looked like she was in charge. I offered to help and was told to scrape the bowl of the Sunbeam mixer filled with potatoes. I then watched Florence heat milk and butter and slowly add it to the potatoes to make them creamy. The rest of the family steered clear of the kitchen and soon Florence shooed me out as well.
Soon we all gathered in the dining room and everything was on the table. Pass to the left or to the right? I watched to see what everyone else was doing. I was seated next to Roger’s dad, Henry. I passed each dish to my future father-in-law. The platter of chicken started with me. I wish I had gotten this one last. I didn’t want to seem greedy and take the best piece of chicken. I carefully searched through the heaping pile of chicken and pulled out a wing. My father in law was watching me the entire time. I placed the wing on my plate and handed the platter to him.
He pounded his fist on the table and said, “Dorma, you’ve got some competition… she took your favorite piece!” My heart sank, dreading to look at Dorma who seemed a little forbidding anyway. Then the whole table burst into laughter. Evidently it was a joke. Because seriously…. how many people really want the wing?
The rest of the day was kind of a blur. Presents were opened, brothers fell asleep on the floor, the women helped clean up. There was a loudness to this family that was nothing like my own soft spoken family. Lots of shouting, a few arguments, and a lot of laughter. Conversations centered on neighbors, friends, and some local gossip. Roger’s little brother, still in high school, got the biggest laugh after a particularly long conversation about a local scandal.
“I wonder who’s sitting around the table talking about us?”