Friendsgiving was the first thought I had when I learned about this assignment. All throughout high school my friends and I would have dinner together during Thanksgiving Break and sit around talking. We looked forward to it every year; sadly, we were not all going to be able to get back together this year due to some of us traveling. However, Friendsgiving was not lost. I was invited to have a Friendsgiving by one of the older members in my sorority, Kelcie, to come to her apartment and I was super excited!
My favorite part about getting together to eat at an actual table is the home-cooked meal that comes with it. There were nine people who were invited (including me) and we all were to bring food. I knew what I was going to bring immediately— mac and cheese! It is one of my absolute favorite foods. Also on the menu were rolls, mashed potatoes, green beans, chicken, dressing, and many different casseroles. And don’t think I forgot about the dessert! We had enough pies to feed a small army!
When I arrived at the apartment I was immediately greeted by Kelcie when I walked in the door. She introduced me to the other girls who lived in the apartment with her: Abby, Kristen, and Morgan. One of Kelcie’s friends, Sydney, also came by for dinner. After her came the three girls from my sorority: Abbi, Anna, and Loretta. I knew this was going to make for an interesting table conversation because we all have different personalities.
I’ll start by giving a little background information on everyone. Sydney, Loretta, Kelcie, Anna, and myself are all from Louisville. Abbi grew up in Lexington, Morgan is from Paducah, and both Abby and Kristen are from Frankfort. Sydney is not a very talkative person, but if you ask her why she prefers not to talk so much she’ll respond by saying that she just likes to listen to what other people have to say. Loretta wants to be described as a humorous, sarcastic human being (as you can tell by her face in the picture). Kelcie is a very loud and, as she likes to say, energetic person. Morgan and Anna remind me of each other in the sense that they both are motherly figures. Abbi preferred that I referred to her as a “fun-loving” kind of girl. Kristen wanted to be described as having a bright personality and Abby is also a bit shy, but she warmed up towards the middle of the dinner. Even though we were all girls, we came from different parts of Kentucky, from different social classes, and from different home lives.
So as we all sat around the table with our plates stacked with the food, I said that we needed to take a group picture. While the majority of us knew we were going to smile normally, of course I was asked if we “had to” smile. I responded that they could make any face that they wanted. So I was left with Loretta “mean-mugging”, Morgan throwing up a peace sign, and Kelcie in the middle of eating a forkful of food. Abbi wasn’t pictured because she was actually taking the picture.
I decided to break the ice with the table since I still didn’t know all of the girls. We started with the question, “Did you ever have meals around the table with your family or neighbors growing up? Did you like that? Why or why not?” We were from all different places in Kentucky so I thought that it would provide for a lot of different answers and reasons.
I thought that Sydney’s answer really coincided with her personality. She had meals around the table growing up and she liked it because it was a way to see how the rest of her family members’ days were going. She is the kind of person who likes to hear what other people have to say and this goes along with wanting to hear how her family’s day went. I related this to the part of the class about deliberative arguments. If she were to participate in one, she would be able to listen to everyone’s point of view before she would speak and give hers. She is a good example of how we can live better together because she is more likely to listen to someone than to argue with them and make the situation worse.
Abby’s answer was not similar to Sydney’s. Abby came from a low-income household. Both of her parents worked long hours and it was a fend-for-yourself situation in her house when it came to dinner. She said that it would have been nice to have sit down dinners every night or at least three or four times a night. The only time that her family would have a sit down dinner was on holidays or once a month. I was wondering if this had something to do with her shy personality in which she didn’t talk very much.
When it came to the question “what does citizenship mean to you?” I received a range of answers. Anna, one of the motherly figures in the group, said that she views citizenship as helping others around you and making sure that your fellow citizens are doing just as well as your family members. Come to find out, Anna volunteered at a soup kitchen in the rough part of Louisville. She would make dinner for the children living there that otherwise would not get a dinner and then afterwards would help them finish their homework. To her, volunteering to help these children was her way of making sure that they were treated (as close as they could be) like her family. Kelcie’s answer took more of a patriotic perspective; she thinks that citizenship is maintaining the virtues that our country values, and not asking what our country can do for us, but what we can do for our county. When it came down to Loretta, she added a little humor to the table and responded with, and I quote, “Citizenship means doing exactly what Queen Loretta wants, no matter what.” And with that, the table erupted in laughter.
Obviously, Loretta’s answer is the opposite of what citizenship is. However, I thought it was cool how no one at the table (except for Abbi and myself) had taken this Citizen and Self class, and they had an idea of what citizenship was besides the basic voting, paying taxes, and following laws answer. Each one of these women had a different meaning to them; even though we all had different opinions, we accepted what each other thought. I think that was the best part about this assignment because it tied together what this class is all about. I didn’t even know everyone as we sat around this kitchen table. I didn’t have to feel obligated to accept what everyone said just because we were friends— because we weren’t all friends. But the fact that we all accepted each other’s opinions, beliefs, and stories is how democracy should be.
This assignment has led me to actually want to eat around a kitchen table more often. At first, I wasn’t sure how a kitchen table dinner could be any different from just eating at a table in DSU. However, know I can understand and appreciate the intimacy and a certain level of quietness that the kitchen table brings. I look forward to appreciating many more kitchen table dinners in my future.
From left to right: Sydney, Loretta, Kristen, Abby, Morgan, Kelcie, Anna, Payton (me)
Not pictured: Abbi