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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Originally published November 26, 2010

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

I think it’s crummy when families can’t agree.

In my family, we can’t agree on when it’s necessary to use a plate for eating. My husband, who’s cranky about crumbs, argues you should use a plate, bowl or other dishware whenever you’re eating. On the other hand, my mother-in-law is casual about crumbs, and when she eats buttered toast in the morning, she forgoes a plate asserting a napkin is enough.

Some of my family take my mother-in-law’s side, and others line up with my husband, so when we spend time together over the holidays, it’s like two opposing teams taking the field.

The team that favors the plate always plays with more polish. For example, when my oldest daughter eats an energy bar as a quick breakfast on her way out the door, she shines with her use of a large dinner plate. No crumbs off sides of the plate. When she’s done, she simply whisks the crumbs into the compost bin for extra points.

I’m definitely on the side of the plate. Out of necessity, however, I’ve come up with my own signature move, when the pressure is on. If I’m still eating and I see the clock is running out, but I need to get out the door in the morning, I carry my plate to the sink. Then with one hand, I finish eating my whole grain muffin over the sink and, using my other hand, I rinse my plate before putting it into the dishwasher. When my crumbs go directly down the drain, I’ve really scored.

The other team, by comparison, has a more relaxed style of play. When my youngest daughter eats an energy bar, she doesn’t bother with a plate. She eats the bar right out of the wrapper, not concerned whether she’s going to fumble a crumb. As far as she’s concerned, if she never has to wash another plate again, then she has won.

My son is no fan of the plate, but as a five-year-old, he has to play by others’ rules. It doesn’t stop him, however, from taking control of the game. Typically, even though he uses a plate, crumbs go everywhere but the plate. When he’s done eating, he displays exceptionally fast hands by brushing the crumbs off the table to the floor. By doing so, he figures he won’t incur any penalties.

However, there is a time when we can all see eye to eye. Sitting down for the big feast, each of us takes a plate and loads it up with food and fixings, as we give thanks for our bounty. It’s at moments like these that we’re happy to be all together on the same team.

But it only lasts so long. Near the end of the meal, my son can no longer be contained. On the buffet among the desserts, he spies snickerdoodles, his favorite cookies. He cuts loose and executes a quick grab and run. It’s one sweet play.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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