Our table resides directly in the center of our kitchen. It has sat here for 25 years. Our table is nothing spectacular – made of maple and left in its natural hue, unstained. It has white sturdy legs and six matching chairs. Anyone may easily take for granted the significance of such a piece of furniture, but for my family, it is the center of everything.
Our table is where we had our first fight as newlyweds. Sadly, it heard the harsh words we exchanged. It witnessed our love, so strong, we couldn’t remain angry for long. It is also where I was sitting when the phone rang and my mother informed me of the devastating news that my precious grandmother had cancer.
I can recall many fond memories that transpired around that centerpiece. Here, on a spectacular summer day in mid-July 1986, I anxiously waited for my husband to arrive. As he walked through the front door, I gestured for him join to me; I impatiently blurted out before he had a chance to sit down. “You’re going to be a daddy!” Our warm, wet tears christened our table.
Our kitchen table has dutifully participated in the middle of plenty of action. It is where we held family game nights for many years. Friday nights while our children were young (and not so young) we huddled around our faithful table. The shouting and laughter echoed throughout the house. These evenings will be eternally etched in my mind and in the table because my youngest, 4 at the time, decided he was going to make a name for himself. “Kenneth” remains carved in our table to this day.
Our table has been the focal point of countless celebrations. I remember one Thanksgiving dinner particularly well. The table was dressed; I had selected a beautiful tablecloth with red, yellow and orange leaves making it festive. I just finished positioning the turkey on the table. As I turned my back, our lightning fast Doberman pinscher, Apollo, seized the opportunity. Faster than a mousetrap can catch its unsuspecting prey, Apollo leaped up on his hind legs, placed his front paws on our table and snatched the crisp golden turkey. In a moment, our turkey was gone.
Our table has always been there to support us. It never seemed to mind when our four children were young and could scarcely reach it. Their tiny fingers would grip the table’s edge to keep themselves from teetering. In the same way, I’ll never forget how many times my grandmother used the table for support as she doddered, as if our table took her hand and gently guided her.
Our table is equally essential to our family today. It would be an injustice to our table if I neglected to mention the undertakings that ensue around it daily. Our children (ages 19, 21, 24) still gather here to do homework, just like when they were small. Now, as I return to college, it is the very place I do my own homework. Our table is the location where my husband and I meet in the morning to get our physical food. Most importantly, it is where we get our spiritual food.
Gathering at our family table builds strong family bonds. The key reason we treasure our table is for enabling us to feast together. We have always made it a priority to convene at the table and share at least one meal a day. There are times when school or work has made this rather difficult, but we believe our family is closer because of this commitment.
Our kitchen table is part of our family. It has felt the sticky little fingers of our children while they gingerly licked their popsicles, the coarse calloused hands of my hard-working husband. Furthermore, it was no stranger to the feeble, leathery touch of our gentle gray-haired grandmother. Our loving table will forever be etched into our lives, and be the center of it all.