Up until that point, I had been utilizing old tables several sizes too small for my family that I picked up at yard sales, stained with crayon marks and supposedly washable paints. We started with 4 chairs, and ended up adding a bench along the way to accomodate my growing family. When we had guests over, we pulled in cheesy outdoor furniture and sat squished around the table to eat our meals together. It was quite chaotic to say the least. But what sort of crazy person has the money to buy actual furniture when they are trying to keep 4 kids fed, right? (Certainly not me!)
Apparently, my folks – seeing the dinner/table/bench seating/squishy dining fiasco decided enough was enough. So they sent me to a furniture store and told me to return with a table. With 8 chairs. TODAY!
It didnt matter to them how much delivery was (despite the fact that we had a truck) and my dad wanted it put together by professionals. (In other words, anyone but me!) His wish was my command, and I did what I was told and brought home a moderately price BIG table in a beautiful dark wood stain with count ‘em….8 chairs. I was so incredibly proud of this impromptu gift and overwhelmed with how just much having a TABLE TO FIT MY FAMILY meant to me.
We ate dinner that night the way I remember eating supper as a child. The way we eat dinner at my grandparents house when we are there for a visit. Together. No one was sitting in lawn furniture and the dinner table was so comfortable and suitable that we sat around after the food was inhaled and actually talked and enjoyed ourselves. Just the way I remembered it.
It hit me then, that eating together as a family, spending time at the FAMILY TABLE, is something that has always been valued by family even way back when, while I was growing up.
When I visited my grandmother’s house as a child, everyone sat together at the TABLE. She lived with just her husband at the time, but still had what seems now like an immense amount of extra orange dining chairs at a massive kitchen table. And everyone spent more time seated around the table talking, laughing, playing cards, drinking beer, creating memories and of course eating than they did anywhere else in the house. Together. As a a family. I imagine that whoever lives in that house today still hears the echoes of laughter and conversation that erupted around my grandmothers kitchen table.
The family dinner, breaking bread, enjoying one another’s company is something that has always taken place at a table in my family. A big table.
Last weekend, my parents decided to drive 450 miles to come deliver yet another table set, this time with 7 chairs. This one for our porch outdoors. They had decided that their outdoor furniture no longer ‘matched’ or suited and had asked me if I wanted their dining set. And of course I did. With a massive outdoor porch, I have only had the extra money to buy a bench and two chairs for outdoors - which meant that as a family, we didnt spend a lot of time out there together.
But we do now.
And, along with having an awesome new outdoor dining table, with plenty of extra chairs for every member of my family - my family has once again returned to my family roots and begun spending time together. At the table.
Yesterday, I worked outside in the sunshine using my new beautiful table. Yesterday evening, my family ate dinner out there together. And afterwards we sipped tea and ate ice cream until the sun went down, and it was time for the kids go to bed. Afterwards, I sat at the table outside, under the moon and stars with my husband chatting away the Sunday evening. Together.
This morning, I sat at the table with a hot cup of coffee in hand and imagined my parents sitting in the chairs across from me. For a few minutes, it felt like they were actually right there with me and it made me happy.
This afternoon, the kids came home from school and plopped down to read their school books, do their homework and have snacks at our new family table. Together. The best part was because it is a piece of furniture that was actually AT my parents house, and is associated with amazing family memories, laughter and togetherness with the people I love, I felt as though the table is not just a piece of furniture, but the pathway to continuing to pass down to my children an extremely cherished family value in my family. One of my daughter’s said, “This feels like grandma and grandpa’s house now!”
Togetherness. At the table.
Hopefully as the years zoom by, I will be able to provide my own kids with a table for their family when the need arises. I hope that one day they look back at our kitchen table – probably worn and tattered by then with wobbly chairs; and are able to relisten to the conversations we had there, hear the echoes of laughter, feel the closeness and love, and remember just how important our time at the family table together really was.