First of all, I'd like to own up to the fact that I've been sitting at the kiddie table on Thanksgiving pretty much my entire life. Starting, of course, when we were kids, my cousins and I have run the show at the table for years.
Although almost all of us are now in our 20s, we still seem to find our way back to the same table every Thanksgiving, no matter where it is.
Though you would think once you got to a certain age, you'd rather sit with the rest of the adults and share stories about jobs, kids and mortgage payments, there are a lot of sacred things that happen at the kiddie table.
No matter how old I get, it is truly where I belong.
Nobody Cares If You Start Eating Before Everyone Else
I didn't have much patience as a child, and growing up, it has only continued to wear thin. At the adult table, a seemingly simple and discreet sampling of your heap of mashed potatoes would be frowned upon until everyone else was seated and ready to eat, as well.
At the kiddie table, however, nobody seems to notice, or care, if you decide to scarf down your stuffing before everyone else is seated. If anything, the act is met with a simple roll of the eyes from the patrons at the adult table, followed with a "Let them eat; you know how kids are."
Though I'm well into my 20s, it's like I morph back into a child when I'm seated at the table, and suddenly, all my misgivings are forgiven.
No Judgment On Second Helpings
Let's face it: When you're an adult still sitting at the kiddie table, any type of shame you feel swiftly evaporates (along with your dignity). You stop caring what anyone else thinks of you.
While the rest of your family at the adult table is slowly eating and enjoying their meals, you and your cousins devour your first plate within minutes and head back up for a second helping. And then a third.
It's not our fault the adult table is filled with slow eaters! Furthermore, any indication of being "lady-like" has been tossed out the window. Why do you think I wore stretchy pants today? Now, pass the gravy.
No Conversation Topic Is "Off Limits"
At the alienated kiddie table, there is no such thing as a conversation that is off limits; any and all type of gossip is up for discussion. Chat about your cousin's new boyfriend, the binge-drinking you did at the bar the night before or the crazy, "hands-on" strip club you attended during your trip to Vegas.
There is no such thing as fear of offending, and you can spill the juicy details without the eavesdropping of the rest of your family. Furthermore, all stories are met with a resounding, "Amazing!" regardless of the details.
It's the kiddie table; we don't judge.
Miss Me With Those Manners
Elbows on the table, leaning back in the chairs and the occasional belch always flies at the kiddie table. After all, we've been sitting together every Thanksgiving for years; it's only natural.
While you may be looked at sideways for doing these atrocious acts at the adult table, the kiddie table embraces all bodily functions and lack of etiquette. Spill gravy on your shirt, accidentally put your elbow in the mac and cheese and overindulge in alcohol. Whatever your poison, do it with flair.
United We Stand
My cousins and I are now referred to as "Lifers" when it comes to the kiddie table. The bond that has been created is one that will never be broken.
We've seen and heard it all -- from consoling one another on relationship woes to being each other's personal cheerleaders when we can't possibly take another bite of mac and cheese ("Finish your plate! Do it for the table!"), to staying judgment-free when we hear how drunk and belligerent our cousins got the night before.
Despite sometimes being separated from the rest of the group, we've managed to rise above as the underdogs, triumph under adversity and congratulate each other on the victory when we successfully eat more cookies than anyone else.
Overall, I plan on being at the kiddie table my entire life. I'm lucky enough I get to spend Thanksgiving with a large amount of family members, and now that we're all in our 20s, we look forward even more to the time spent catching up on each other's lives.
The wine is poured, the gravy is ladled, and we're ready to enjoy each other's company, belch without warning and laugh hysterically until we spit out our cranberry sauce.
We started out our Thanksgiving bond with bottles of milk, small helpings of turkey and an inevitable nap after eating, and have now graduated to white wine, a lot of crazy stories and an inevitable nap after eating.
I must say, it's an honor to still be going strong after all these years. I suppose after all we've been through, I can compare the kiddie table to the Mafia: difficult to enter, impossible to leave and exciting, unpredictable and memorable all along the way.