Friday, September 16, 2011

A Place At The Table

(So, back before I started blogging, I used to write random "essays". I have a whole portfolio of them. I used to also write opinion "letters"/articles for the local paper, but that is another subject. The following is one of my "essays" I dug out the other day and figured I'd share.)

October 10, 2008

My family had the same kitchen table since before I was born. It was large enough to seat everyone; at one time being nine people all together. Through the years, the numbers have dwindled down as family members got married or moved away.

It was a heavy brown thing, and mom collected various vintage ladder back kitchen chairs to place around it, with cushions Grandma sewed for them. When the varnish started to soften and peel, mom just bought table cloths for it.

It was very important to my parents, who were trying to blend two families together, that meals be eaten all together. So, just about every day for breakfast and supper, we all sat around the table and truly did come together and bonded as a family.

The table was more than just a place to eat meals. It was, perhaps, the most important fixture in our home. Each person had an assigned "place" at the table, where we sat day after day. When Mom folded the laundry, she placed each person's stack of clothing at their "place", along with other items she found lying around that needed putting away; or little things she had bought for that person.

Before we had our schoolroom (we were homes schooled) complete with desks, dry erase board, bookshelves, and filing cabinets, we did our assignments at the table.

When Mom sewed clothing, she spread her fabrics and patterns out on the table; and we did numerous crafts projects there as well. I watched Mom create wonders around the table... play costumes, ball gowns, bridesmaid's dresses, or curtains, mom made them on that table.

My brothers spread newspapers over it, and cleaned their guns and other hunting gear. It was also a medical center, from time to time, when someone had a splinter, a cut, sores, or other maladies. Mom would get out her EMT gear and go to work under the bright light of the chandelier.

At Christmas, it was a decorating and present wrapping station, a cookie baking center, and Christmas card writing desk, as well as everyone's favorite place on Christmas day when mom served home made doughnuts for breakfast, and succulent turkey for dinner.

It was Dad's desk when he went back to college, where he paid bills, and where he did a lot of his writing.

Everyone celebrated their birthday around the table; the ceiling above the table festooned with crepe paper and balloons, Mom's home made Birthday Banners, and colorful table cloths. Mom made the birthday person's favorite cake, and bought their favorite ice cream. The family gathered around to sing, enjoy cake, and watch the gift opening. It was the place where countless important family pow-wows took place; decisions were made, tears were shed, opinions voiced, and politics passionately discussed.

As the years went by, there were less people around it for daily meals; but for the Holidays, once again, the family gathered around it. With the addition of spouses, it got tighter and tighter. After the Holiday dinners, its still the family "catching up" spot, where, just like in the beginning, the family bond is preserved.

Some want to hear the stories walls would tell if they could speak; but I'd want to listen to my family's table.

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1 comment:

Catherine said...

Heart-warming essay. A great picture of real American life as it was meant to be. :)