|You'd better be thankful for that!|
Just sayin . . .
Suppertime at the Stringam Ranch.
The best part of everyone’s day.
Well . . . most everyone.
Mealtimes on a spread the size of ours inevitably meant the mixing of people of vastly different lives and lifestyles.
There was the family. Mom, Dad, children, babies.
Hired men. Ranging in age from the world-weary, leather-faced, taciturn individual who had spent a lifetime squinting into the sun, to the young, smooth-cheeked, ready-for-anything boy, away from home for the very first time.
And assorted people who simply found themselves in the vicinity when the dinner bell rang; and happily joined the queue heading into the dining room.
A fairly eclectic mix.
All knew they would be treated to the very best of good, ranch cooking.
And that the traditional meal would begin with another, more important tradition.
Thanking the Lord.
Regardless of race, creed or colour, the people gathered around my father’s table to eat my mother’s food, would patiently and solemnly bow their heads as Grace was said.
Further participation was optional.
Case in point:
My eldest sister had just turned four.
And had taken on all the heavy duties and responsibilities associated with that venerable age.
Seated happily among the people gathered around the table for the evening meal, she folded her hands tightly, bowed her curly red-haired head, and squeezed her eyes shut when the prayer was said.
There was a chorus of ‘Amens’.
Chris’ head swivelled around and she pinned the hired man seated next to her with a blue-eyed glare.
“You didn’t say ‘Amen’!” she said loudly.
The man turned slightly red and squirmed in his chair as he reached for the stack of still-warm, freshly-sliced bread.
Chris turned to her father. “Daddy! He didn’t say ‘Amen’!” she said, even more loudly.
Dad paused in the passing of a large bowl of potatoes. “Ummm . . .” he said.
She turned to the other end of the table. “Mom . . .!”
“That’s okay, dear,” Mom soothed.
The now red-faced man managed to make it through the rest of a meal punctuated by the side-long glances from a tiny girl with strong convictions.
I’m sure he had had more uncomfortable meals in his lifetime.
I’m also sure he was wishing he was at one of them.