At family gatherings, does your family segregate meals dividing its members between the “kiddie” table and the “grown-ups table”?
If your family does, this is a post for you.
If your family doesn’t, this is still a post for you because we could all use some blessings sent with good intentions (even if they didn’t start that way).
Dating back farther than my memory serves, my mother’s family has hosted all of its meals with separate tables for children and adults. As our legs and attitudes grew, my cousins and I lamented the fact that we were forced to dine at the “kiddie” table. My grandmother used to always tell us to be grateful because at least we weren’t like “the Dooley’s down the road.” Grandma would continue on with the story that the sweet Dooley family had ten (10) children and not enough chairs, so at meals they had to sit on the floor.
My grandmother also maintained the practice of saying, “And all for baby Jesus,” at the end of every meal prayer.
As a teenager, I maintained the practice of being a pain in my grandmother’s rear.
At one holiday meal where I feeling particularly disgruntled at my “kiddie table” status, (I’m sad to say I don’t remember the holiday or year), I followed up my grandmother’s closing blessing, “And all for baby Jesus,” with, “And God bless the Dooley’s. May they all have chairs to sit on.”
(Heaven help me. I was a pain.)
Shortly, after my petition, everyone started to giggle. Then the laughter grew. Eventually, even Grandma couldn’t help but laugh to the point of tears, and that is how our tradition of Blessing the Dooley’s began.
To this day, Grandma still says, “And all for Baby Jesus,” and I proudly ask for continued blessings on the Dooley’s. My children have taken to blessing the Dooley’s at random meals. Even though I’m certain my kiddos have never had the chance to meet one of “the Dooley’s from down the road,” it warms my heart to hear them petition for others they have not met.
When I decided that this year was the year I would share the tradition of blessing the Dooley’s on Intentergy, I figured I better ask permission before divulging their chair-less meals to the masses and the prayer practices resulting from my juvenile sassiness.
My Grandma is still living down the road from the Dooley’s, but she doesn’t really have internet or follow blogs, so I thought it best to reach out to my Aunt, who also happens to be one of my biggest blogging supporters. (Thank you, Aunt Mary Ann!)
After acquiring the telephone number from my aunt for one of “the Dooley girls” (Linda Dooley Kraemer, that is), I realized I had never been nervous about my practice of praying for the Dooley’s, until I had to tell them I was doing so.
I wasn’t sure Linda would even talk to me or have any idea who I was, but I was going to:
A. Call her out of the blue
B. Tell her I’ve been praying for her family for over 25 years
C. That I wanted to write a blog post about my sassily-started prayer tradition and her family’s impact on my understanding of what gratitude for adequate seating should be
Oh, and D. Ask for some pictures of the ten Dooley kids
(I would not have blamed Linda for hanging up on me.)
When I called her, Linda was very kind and shared admiration for my grandma and family. She was tickled by my request and immediately became my Facebook friend. Within an hour I had one photograph with a caption, and she was working on scanning and sending more. Bless the Dooley’s!
Linda shared with me that she never felt like they did without and that they were always happy to have neighbors to help and provide them with support. In our conversation, Linda spoke of her family with love and a bit of sadness for those that are no longer with us. She told me that her father, Noble, passed May 16, 1982. Her brother Larry passed away only two years later on May 14, and they lost her mother, Lillian, on November 5, 2001. The toughest, it seemed, for her to share was the loss of her brother Cubby on May 30, 2020. In telling her family’s story, it was obvious that Linda knew how special their connections were and that a large family provided her with that many more people to love and blessings for which to be grateful.
As I drafted this post, I found myself deleting and restarting more than normal. In many of my observations of how this tradition grew, I came across as ingenuine. The truth of the matter is I am so very grateful for the Dooley’s. I am extremely appreciative of families like theirs and mine, because those kids on the floor, and the kids at the “kiddie table,” and the kids who finally made it to the “grown-ups table” all have lots of memories to cherish and plenty to be grateful for.
When I think back to my Grandma telling us we should be glad that we didn’t have to sit on the floor, I smile, because we really didn’t have it so bad. After speaking with Linda, I don’t think the Dooley’s had it all that bad either.
Yes, their dinner may have been eaten sitting on the floor, but they were in a home full of love, faith, and a family that would do many wonderful things for their businesses, communities, and the neighbors “down the road.”
The ability and ease with which we added the tradition of blessing the Dooley’s is one that that any of us can add to our holiday celebrations or daily prayers. We don’t always have to know the individuals to ask for their well being, success, or joy. We can always wish and hope for good things to come to those who are less fortunate, or who share the trial and tribulations of life we ourselves experience. (Like sitting at the “kiddie table.”) We can’t all sit at the “grown-ups table,” but we can all join in the blessing of others. Please join me this Thanksgiving in blessing the Dooleys and celebrating the tradition of gratitude for all the things we have and the ability to know how very blessed we are.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. I really do hope my kiddos get to meet “the Dooley’s down the road” some day.