My sister loved to host family dinners, especially during the holidays and birthdays. Many Thank giving, Christmas and birthday celebrations were held at her house. Her taste, like my mother's, was flawless. Her holiday decorations could easily have been featured in House Beautiful. The entire house was filled with the colors of Christmas. The tree, of course, was gorgeous - full of twinkling lights, multi-colored bulbs and presents galore.
The dining room table, with its fine-boned china and silver goblets, was picture perfect. And then there was the food- turkey and dressing, of course, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and deserts to die for. My sister was an excellent cook. I loved her chess pies and Italian cream cheese cakes.
Dinners at my sister's house were wonderful except for one minor flaw-Patricia's eating habits. I came from a family of fast eaters. We would talk politics, current events, books we had read, movies we had seen, etc., while shoving food into our constantly moving mouths. I learned to eat fast in grammar school. I would gulp down the food in the school cafeteria so I would have more time for the playground. Nothing was more important to an eight-year-old than playtime. The one exception to the family's eating habits was Patricia. She liked to draw out culinary experiences. A perfect example of this is the story of the two ice cream cones. My sister was five and my brother Larry was three and a half, at the time. It was in the middle of the summer. As a treat, Mama bought them both vanilla ice cream cones. Larry wolfed his down in a matter of minutes. Patricia, on the other hand, decided to savor her ice cream. She slowly licked each side and took a small bite off the top. Larry, who was watching her performance with great interest, suddenly grabbed the cone from his sister's hand and gobbled the ice cream down in a matter of seconds.
My sister was not only the slowest eater in my family; she was the slowest consumer of food I have ever known. At every family dinner, my sister would talk non-stop. What drove us all, especially my father, up the wall was that she would raise a morsel of food to her mouth, talking incessantly but never taking a bite. Finally, my father, losing all patience, would raise his voice and say "Take a bite Patricia!" She would, but then the whole process would start all over again. After about twenty minutes of this, everyone but my sister and mother would leave the table and wander around. Some would check the sports scores on television. Those of us who still smoked would go outside and have a cigarette or two. After a forty minute recess from dinner, we would all return to the table for desert. By that time, Patricia would sometimes have consumed the main course, but not always.