Mealtime is an important place to hone your survival skills. Whenever there's food involved, you're always playing for high steaks. You can't afford to have sloppy strategies.
Hard work and good cooking means we take mealtime pretty seriously. Dinner is the main meal; in fact, it's pretty much the main event of the whole day. The kitchen table is the most important piece of furniture in the house. (Dad's La-Z-Boy is a close second.)
Generally we have what is affectionately termed "assigned seating." This means you always sit in the same spot. Always. And if you happen to sit in the wrong spot, the lawful occupant of that spot will promptly inform you of your mistake, occasionally quite forcefully. The emotional attachment possible between toddler and chair is truly remarkable.
Being assigned to a seat at or near the end of the table is highly desirable, because this means less passing. It never fails: you've just picked up your chicken thigh, brought it to your mouth, and someone asks for the salad dressing. You can pretend not to have heard, but that generally doesn't go over too well. Moral of the story: sit at the end. No one bothers you, and not only that, you automatically look important.
As a rule, we have very good manners - and very good workarounds. You always watch for an opportunity to take the second-to-last of something, because then you don't have to ask the dreaded question: "Does anyone want the last _____?" Because inevitably someone does. So take the second-to-last and save yourself the trouble.
We have plenty to eat; too much, oftentimes. Still, the plain fact is that there is only so much food, no more. And if you're really hungry, this can be a problem. When we were young, we hit upon a creative solution: eat fast! If you eat fast, you'll be ready for seconds before the next guy! Then you can disappear into the crowd when he finally comes around for seconds and finds out it's all gone.
I still remember going to an all-you-can-eat salad bar place and realizing with a start that we guys were eating like we were in some sort of contest at the county fair. We had to remind ourselves to slow down: it's not going to run out here.
Yes, growing up in a large family is a rush. For the cookies.
Image courtesy of amateurgourmet.com