Seven of us sitting around the dining table with my back to the picture window facing out to the front lawn and Miller Ave. My parents, my sisters and my grandparents. I sat next to my Gram with my Dad on the right at the head of the table. The gorgeous crystal chandelier, now over that same table in a different dining room in my Mom's house, watching over us, with light refracting off the crystals. White tablecloth. My Mom's china in white with delicate blue flowers (?) and silver rims. The fancy silverware and glasses. Everything laid out ahead of time. (Mom used to pack for trips a week in advance, too.)
The food came out from the kitchen via the pantry. Turkey and stuffing. Broccoli "souffle" that was really more of a broccoli and cheese casserole but no less the object of my ardent affection for the gap between the fancy name and the plebeian ingredients. Mashed potatoes. Salad. Cranberry sauce. No yams or sweet potatoes or God forbid, anything with mini-marshmallows. That room, with its chandelier, fireplace, hardwood floor covered by an oriental rug, some sort of pastoral mural wall paper on the long wall. It could never allow mini-marshmallows.
The straight backed chairs demanded good posture and of course we had to dress properly for the occasion. The conversation was warm. Lots of grownup talk, of course. I liked to listen even though I don't think I understood. My grandfather always tough in his convictions; a counterpoint to my grandmother who was soft and gentle and wore her long gray hair wrapped into a bun on the back of her head.
After the pies and the grownups' coffee we'd adjourn to the living room, a room used only on special occasions. Otherwise it was a place to pass through on the way to the den, where the TV and stereo resided in a long, narrow room full of wood-louvered windows and two huge hanging ferns. A few more logs tossed onto the fire and we were full, warm and sleepy. One year I fell asleep on the gold velvet sofa. The mark of my napping drool remained long after the nap was done. I turned over the cushion and hoped no one would notice.