I have been thinking about the message from Sunday. About bringing back the table. About how the table has been a huge part of my life. About how the table really was a focal point at home growing up. About how I am responsible for letting it get covered up with mail and a centerpiece and stuff when I was raising the girls. About how I let it become a shelf for things I wasn’t sure where to put or things I didn’t bother to put. About how I wish I could have a do-over and re-train myself and my girls and insist on making the table a big deal in the life of our family.
Growing up, we never ate meals away from the table. Unless it was a rare picnic or a neighborhood weeny roast, all meals were shared as a family, at the table. It was where “The Daily Bread” was read each morning. It was where Mom or Dad began the day and ended the day in prayer. It was where we discussed the days’ events. There were no cell phones to invade space and distract. There wasn’t a TV in the kitchen to steal our attention.
- High chairs were a part of the setting when babies were hungry
- Hands were occasionally held when guests were asked to lead prayer and prompted this gesture
- Scraps were quietly dropped onto the floor for Fifi or Tuffy or Sneakers or Squatsy (don’t judge – they were beloved pets with silly names, and I don’t claim responsibility of any of the naming)
- Tears were shed when plates were not cleaned up and we were made to sit until we decided to finish our dinner
- Cereal boxes were read, top to bottom
- Lectures were given
- Ideas were shared
- Crafts were made
- Homework was completed and books and papers were strewn about
- Fabric was cut out according to patterns laid out smooth
- Games were played with much laughter, or much concentration
- The tradition of the autographed tablecloth began
- Playdough and fingerpaints were allowed to be messy
- Mom’s china was displayed for her invited guests on special occasions
- Card tables were added to the ends along with any and every chair available when company arrived for the meal, because we all sat together, even if it meant having a table leg in between your knees, or sitting at the empty space/crack between tables right at your place setting
We were taught how to set a table. We were taught how to actually have conversation with others. We were taught to answer in sentences longer than one word. We were taught to pray and value this time together as a family. We were expected to help clean up afterwards. And when Daddy had to work late, occasionally I was allowed to stay up late and sit at the table with him while we both ate macaroni and cheese in the quiet of the evening.
I am grateful for these memories, although I am also sad that they are just memories.
I am grateful for pretty little salt and pepper shakers that sat in the middle of the table.
I’m not so grateful for leftovers.
I am grateful for a napkin holder that sat on the table that also held the little devotional and a tiny ceramic container of toothpicks.
I am grateful for relish plates, for cheese trays, for bread baskets, for deviled egg plates, for cake stands, for divided dishes so that the black olives didn’t touch the green olives.
I am grateful for plastic placemats and pastel Tupperware cups and melamine plates and mismatched silverware and serving straight from the pots and pans.
I am grateful for tablecloths that Mom insisted on having for each table when guests were coming to join us for a meal. It was her way of making the table pretty and special.
I am grateful for late nights around the table playing Monopoly or Rook or Risk or Yahtzee or Dominoes.
I am grateful for more recent times around the table – when I was at my lowest point and sat at the table with my parents, spilling my anguish and pain while receiving their love, attention and support.
I am grateful for tears shed, for the giggles and laughter, for prayers prayed, for deep discussion, all around the table.
And finally, I am grateful that of all of the hours spent at the table with Mom and Dad, and my brothers and sister, the world’s problems were not solved, but we became closer as a family, we learned to speak and we learned to listen, and we (mostly) learned to love and respect each other and the various opinions and passions that made us unique and similar.