The Family Table

During the holidays, as we all sat balancing our plates on our knees—you see, there were 6 of us and our kitchen table seats 4 comfortably—we talked about the family table. My husband and I sat faithfully at the kitchen table and discussed our daily grind for years. We always promised ourselves we wouldn’t sit with TV trays in the living room watching the news. But, in the last few years, we’ve managed to saunter to the living room, grabbing our laptop tables and eating our meals whilst discussing world news and our daily ups and downs. There we sit like two old people, tired from our day, disgusted with the news we are sharing with one another on our tablets, and just generally winding down in our soft reclining chairs. Those idealistic people who once promised to never eat in front of the television are now realistically tired and so over what’s been going on in the last 2+ years.

That said, we talked with our friends while eating our holiday meal and made promises for the year 2022. And although we can’t fit the table we ordered a couple of years ago (pictured below) into our apartment (we weren’t planning on still being here), we are going to start eating at our kitchen table for every meal again.

West Elm Mid-Century Expandable Dining Table/chairs 60-80″

And by Christmas next year, we are going to fix things differently in this apartment so that our guests and us can eat altogether, without the balancing act, at a table. 

I didn’t grow up in a house where we shared meals as a family at the kitchen table. At 8 or 9, I remember lunch meals, though rare, together. But as the years went by, Dad had more to do and less help, so he often had a packed lunch, and we ate whatever was offered and sometimes sat at the kitchen table, often alone, to eat it. I don’t ever remember eating the evening meal as a family because my siblings and I ate at 5:30 or 6 p.m. and our parents ate supper when the milking chores were done. I remember that if and when we did eat a meal together, talking was not allowed. Even during holiday times, the one time our big beautiful dining room table would be used all year (the rest of the time it was buried in clothing, mail, paperwork, and magazines), we didn’t sit together as a family due to space. My siblings and I were always the only kids and would be put out on the front porch in the summer time, in the living room, or back at the kitchen table during winter meals. 

When my husband and I got married, we couldn’t afford a kitchen table or any other furniture. First we had a card table for a kitchen table, and then eventually we were given a table that had been used in a restaurant. It wasn’t until year 13 when we could afford to buy our own furniture, and then we had a local Amish man make us our very own kitchen table. It’s been an integral part of our lives, from me learning how to sew–a place to set my machine, to kneading bread, to playing board game after board game, taking photos of vegetable hauls every summer, and many, many meals together talking about everything and anything in the world. 

It’s just been these last two years that we’ve fallen away from the practice of eating at the family table, looking up now and again at each other, and talking once again about things other than world news and the events of the last two years. It’s a precious time and one that’s very important for connecting with one another after a long day. We’re getting back to it, and it feels good. How about you? Do you eat at the family table, or as we once did with TV trays while balancing our tablets, or as our friends and I did at Christmas–a balancing act of plates on your knees..?

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