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Graduating from the kids table to the Big Table

Joe Bushue: The Bright Side

Joe Bushue is a travel agent and lifelong Gresham resident who has been tolerating multiple sclerosis for 30-plus years. His column recounts some of the humorous sides of his disability and his slants on life. Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Some milestones of life are known. You know exactly when your age becomes double digits, when you become a teenager at 13, then at 16 you can get a driver's license.

But one milestone of importance doesn't come at a set age. I finally was told that I could sit at the 'Big Table' for Thanksgiving! I'd apparently done my time at that rickety old card table kind of stuck in the corner. I felt like I had arrived and had earned my seat with the adults. I finally could take part in some real conversation, enjoy the jokes and be a true participant in this family tradition. To tell the truth, I was pretty excited. I got to sit on the corner at the end of a long oak table set for 10!

I was between my great-aunt Martha and my dad's second cousin (I think) Henry. We all took our seats. Out came the turkey, and the meal started. I had to remind Aunt Martha several times just exactly who I was. Cousin Henry liked to tell anybody who would listen 'why the chicken crossed the road' jokes. He made sure you got them with a quick jab to your side. (I had no idea there was so many reasons.)

As the food started to get passed around the table, I learned that particular corner of the table was like the busiest intersection at Times Square in New York. I barely got my plate loaded before all the passing and polite requests started over. So much for the relaxed and pleasant adult conversation. The only jokes (for lack of a better term) were the chicken ones that Cousin Henry seemed to have an endless supply of.

I glanced over at my old kids' table and noticed they were all eating and laughing between bites, visiting and sharing info about what was happening with everyone else. So far all I had learned between passing the rolls and gravy was that Aunt Martha was lactose intolerant and that candied yams gave Cousin Henry gas.

I started to wonder what I had to do to earn my way back to the kids' table. So far, the 'Big Table' wasn't at all like I thought it would be. It was kind of like when you were a kid and you wanted to watch your favorite cartoon show on TV but had to watch the news instead. You wondered what the big deal with the news was.

But as I got older, I realized that the news had more importance. I then decided I had graduated from the kids' table to the 'big one' to become an official family Thanksgiving dinner apprentice. After a few years learning the ropes, I too could someday become a journeyman. Just think: In a shorter amount of time than I had spent with the card table crowd, I would be a learned holiday dinner pro!

As I looked back at all the Thanksgiving feasts I was lucky enough to have enjoyed, and the anticipation in looking forward to it every year, I realized it was worth the wait. The kids' table was just the gateway to the apprentice training I would get at the 'big one.'

But I have to admit, sometimes that card table looked pretty good.

Regardless of where you sit this and every year, take time to realize all that we have to be thankful for and enjoy it. For everyone still at that rickety old table wondering when it'll be your turn to move on up, remember, your turn will come.