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A seating chart for Thanksgiving

As far as I know, we will not be having any overnight houseguests this Thanksgiving, but we will be having a bit of a crowd for dinner. It's 19 at last count -- and the ages range from 9 months (twin girls) to 81.

For weeks now, I have been trying to figure out how to seat everybody. My most recent idea -- and I am not saying it is a good one -- is to move the dining room table into the living room, which is much bigger than the dining room. This way I will be able to use all three 18-inch table leaves, which I can't do in the dining room.

I believe I even have a table cloth big enough to fit the extended table (note to self: check that). And I can set up another table next to it so we are all together.

What about the furniture? Well, considering that the sofa is out being reupholstered and our redecorating project finds us low on some basics, this may not be the problem it would have been in previous years.

I have always said that the setup for Thanksgiving is trickier than the meal.

Depending on the situation and cast of characters, I have crammed people in the dining room, split up people between two rooms, served family style one year, buffet style the next. One year, we even removed the dining room table and put in two of those 6-foot tables people rent for parties.

Certainly, my idea of changing rooms around is one of my more ambitious.

Growing up, we usually had a kids' table at holidays -- and I lived to tell about it.

Later on, as we grew older, everyone usually fit around the table even though space was tight and left-handers got booted to the ends.

A kids' table won't really work for us this year. It's not as if we have a bunch of 8- to 12-year olds we can send off to Giggle Land. In addition to the twin babies arriving from Ohio (presumably with traveling high chairs), we have our own 8 1/2 -year-old and then the age jumps to college-age cousins.

Several of the adult guests in attendance would be quite at home at a kids' table, of course, but I still want everyone to be together.

The other option is to split people up -- with some sitting in the dining room and others in the kitchen. My guess is that everyone wants to be with the twins, at least until the squash starts flying.

Should I send one twin to the kitchen and one to the dining room? Of course not.

Send everyone with a first name beginning with A to L to one table, and M to W -- we have no X,Y or Zs -- to the other. Nope.

Draw straws -- with those pulling the short ones banished to the kitchen? Double nope.

In my family, no one wants to miss anything.

One of my funniest memories was the year everyone sat around the table, moistened their fingers in the water goblets and ran them around the rims, listening as the glasses started to "sing."

We worked on changing the pitch, believing we actually knew what we were doing.

This practically went on to the next holiday. By the time we were bored with that project, we were hungry for leftovers.

It was fun because everyone was at one table.

So, yes, I want everyone to be together. But this year I don't think we'll try to make any goblets sing.

It gets pretty noisy, and I don't want to make those babies cry.


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