Classic Column: Kids Table Manifesto

To be read aloud before The Grownups Table during the forthcoming Thanksgiving feast:

“We, the lowly minions of the Kids Table, in order to form a more perfect holiday, solemnly vow that we will not seek, nor accept invitation, to ever join The Grownups Table.

“Though you sit in high-back chairs that have seat cushions. And though your strategic location in the dining room puts you mere steps away from the delicious food in the kitchen …

“We shall never forfeit our right to assemble freely around collapsible aluminum tables in the living room as far from the kitchen as the house’s architecture allows.

(Above: Kids table and chairs. Actual size.)

“As responsible children, teens and grown adults reaching upwards of 34 years in age, we Kids Table peons fully accept the difficulties that come with this challenge.

“Why young persons should reserve the right to sup together is self-evident, but lest there be confusion, we wish to make the following clear: We listened in on your conversations last year. And we were frightened.

“Digestive disorders … doctors … dead toenails … growths … parasites … detachable pinkie fingers … bunions … freak squirrel attacks … and so on.

“Dear elders, holiday celebrations are not a competition to see whose bodily temple is worshipped by the most maladies. Seek not to one-up Great Uncle Billy who has Bubonic Plague of the hemorrhoid. His is the greatest illness. He has won.

“Furthermore, The Grownups Table could learn from the Kids Table. We speak and laugh of many things: ribald jokes, stories of too much wine, love lost and detachable pinkies found. Most important we speak of ‘South Park.’ Of Cartman and Stan and Kyle and Kenny, a boy so closely associated with grim death, it’s as if his ghostly visage hovers above The Grownups Table still.

“Though the temptation to escape The Grownups Table must be overpowering, know that any alien invasion visited upon The Kids Table made in an attempt to evade tales of your apocalyptic medical nightmares will not be tolerated. Our conversations will cease, and the tales of too much wine shall be replaced by our rather efficient consumption of turkey.

“We have chosen as a symbol of our struggle a flag, woven from forgotten ‘Pilgrims and Indians’ tablecloths, stained forever with the cranberry sauce of indifference. In the near-ground: a cheap folding chair. Then mountains — symbolizing our ever-expanding, shadow-casting uncles who impede passage to the kitchen. And far beyond the mountains — the bountiful feast.

“It has been said that a Thanksgiving turkey divided against itself cannot stand. We, The Kids Table, are united as one. Our unity has been forged in the furnace of neglect and molded into a steel colder and harder than that which comprises the 1970s-style folding chairs upon which we sit.

“On this Thanksgiving Day we Kids give thanks, above all, for each other. Especially the sisters and brothers and cousins and cousins’ scary boyfriends who feasted with us these many years as secondhand Thanksgiving citizens.

“Without them, the holiday experience would be much the lesser. And we’d be forced to listen to Uncle Ted blather endlessly about his on-again, off-again lower back pain.

“Happy Thanksgiving, my brothers, sisters, cousins and cousins’ scary boyfriends! The struggle continues. But the day is ours!”

(This column was originally published in 2003.)

To read last week’s column, Menergy is the New Metrosexual, click here.

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles

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