Our dining room table is on its last leg. Not quite literally – although it could apply – but it’s time to upgrade. We’ve had this little table with 4 chairs for almost 10 years now (before kids!) and it’s lasted well for a Target purchase. For the past few years we’ve re-tightened the screws of the chair legs more times than I can remember, and lately the table legs are buckling too. Not from the weight of our food, but from the constant movement of being pushed this way and that way when used as a hide-out or princess castle, and the weight it carries from when we used it as a hammock stand (bed sheets tied around its top).
Our dining table goes way past dining. I’m not even sure if you can call family meals with toddlers “dining”. It’s more of a food & drink obstacle course. This Target table has accumulated a little bit of history, and as much as I’d love to keep it in the family, it has to go. Because it’s just not big enough to handle the future history I have in store for it.
I want a bigger (and sturdier) table not just to seat more people (every time we have people over for meals, we have to bring in the patio chairs for extra seating), but to have a family table: a table that can last for years and years. A table that will bring up memories in my kids when they’re all grown up. A table that can tell stories about the big and crazy days as much as it can about the small and quiet and everyday days.
The dining table of my childhood had history, and it’s still collecting more stories. For as long as I can remember my parents had this massive oak farmhouse table that seats 8. It’s rugged and raw and insanely heavy. Well, it’s solid wood with a table top that’s about 4 inches thick.
Each one of us had their specific seat although we don’t fight over them anymore now when we all visit. I can still remember how it feels to roll my socked right foot over the thick, wooden table base.
The table has burn marks on it from pots that were too hot and markings from knives and forks although they’re hard to see on the rough surface. When you look closely you can find a small, round dent in the center from when the massive chandelier came down one day. This is the table where my Dad smeared hundreds of school lunch sandwiches. The table that my Mom set tirelessly every day for breakfast – because there was no “breakfast on the run” in our house. We sat down at the table for every meal. Except for very special days when we watched “Wetten dass…?” on TV and we ate in the living room.
OK, so why am I telling you all of this? Maybe you already know. Maybe you’ve been reminiscing about your own family table memories while you were reading about mine. You know it’s not about the table, but more about the memories that collected around it. Some people say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and I do believe in that but I don’t have an eat-in kitchen. In fact our kitchen is a narrow alley that really doesn’t work for more than 1 person at a time. That’s why our home’s heart is growing around the dining room table. The family table. This is where we come together at least once a day to share our meals, but also our thoughts and laughs and sometimes tears and frustrations. This is where we paint Easter eggs, do homework, wrap presents, build hidey-holes, write Christmas cards and meal plans.
This is where we talk to each other, face to face. As full time working parents we don’t get enough of this time, so that is why I put so much emphasis on the time spent here. I don’t force us to eat every meal at the table, but I love it when we do. Yes, we have Pizza Fridays with a Netflix movie in the living room, and yes, we have breakfast on the run some days, but we sit together for dinner at least 5-6 nights a week and I really hope it will stay that way.
And I hope that I will find a table that has a nice heavy base where I can roll the bottom of my right foot over it.