Sunday, November 17, 2013

Favorite Things: Come To The Table

This time of year makes me think about The Sound of Music.  I guess that's because it is usually on T.V. at some point during the holiday season. I love a good musical, and although I like The Sound of Music, it's not on my top 5 musical list.  But I do love the song "My Favorite Things" which pops up on the radio quite often during this time of year.  It's not so much the uplifting melody or the imagery the lyrics paint or the clever rhythmic rhyming that I love about this song.  I love that it is so specific, "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...brown paper packages tied up with string."  I once read an interview with J.K. Rowling in which she talked about the importance of details in her writing.  She explained that she included things like butter beer, chocolate frogs, and pumpkin pasties in her books because when she was a child reading books, those were the kinds of things she wanted to know.  Details are important.  Specific details are better in my opinion.

With that in mind, I'm going to throw out a few posts called "Favorite Things". No, not like Oprah's list of decadent items that everyone goes ape shit for on her show.  I've seen lots of people on Facebook who are participating in the gratitude challenge and are listing things they are thankful for each day.  I applaud them for that.  I wrote about the necessity of appreciating little specific things in order to be happy in this post.  My idea for these posts, however, is to really get focused on specific items.  Oh, I know we're not supposed to focus on material things.  I understand why.  I get it.   To me, though, tangible things are a veritable roadmap to the intangible. It's easy to forget the intangible which is why symbols are an important part of life. Stay with me here.

So - my dining room table.  What?  Yes, that's right.  My dining room table is one of my favorite things.


My parents purchased this Amish made oak table with two leaves that can be taken in or out and six matching chairs for us when my husband and I bought our first home together.  I owned a house by myself before we were married.  There was no room for a table and chairs in my first house.  There was a breakfast bar you could eat at which worked fine for a single gal who usually ate a bowl of cereal for dinner.  When I got married, we moved the two person K-Mart table I was using as a desk in the second bedroom into what was really the living room and ate there.  Then my daughter was born and we scooted a high chair up to that.

But when my daughter was about nine months old, we bought another house.  We moved in early December.  There was actually a big old space for a dining room table in the new house.  The K-Mart table looked quite out of place and pathetic there, but we had just moved and were not financially able to go out and drop a load of cash on a nice dining room set.  We knew we'd just get by with what we had.  Besides, the new house had an even nicer and larger breakfast bar and my daughter was still in her high chair.  But my parents generously offered to buy us a dining room set as a housewarming gift.  I was working, we still had boxes to unpack, my husband was working second shift, and we had a baby at home.  I did not have time to go out and browse furniture stores.  My mom asked me what kind of finish, shape, and wood we would like.  I told her.  She picked it out.  My mother and I are both fairly decisive people, and this is the way we work best together.  It took over the space of our sad, little K-Mart table with authority.  But we still ate at the breakfast bar most days with my daughter in her high chair at the end of it.

And then Christmas Eve came nearer.  The thought occurred to me that we might actually be able to have Christmas Eve dinner at our house because everyone would have a place to sit down!  I was 33 years old and had never lived in a place where I could do that.  We put in the two leaves and it was like a banquet hall - for us, anyway.  My parents, brother, sister-in-law, and aunt were able to eat at our table with us.  We became the hosts.  Becoming the host of your extended family is an unsung rite of passage these days, I think.  Hmmm... that's a good thought for another series of posts.  But back to my point...

We're now in yet a different house and have two kids who have been old enough to sit at the table for quite some time.  This table houses all kinds of memories now.

Birthdays...




 

Every one of my children's birthday parties has been at this table.


Coloring Easter eggs...



Family Game Night...



Carving pumpkins...


And making Christmas cookies...




Not to mention decorating it for every season like...

The Fourth of July...

Halloween...

Back to school...


And of course, Christmas...


I also love the craftsmanship of this table.  Someone's hard work and skill went into making it.  I cannot build anything.  I have no aptitude for putting things together, so I'm very impressed when someone can.  I'm amazed how the gears turn perfectly against each other to let the table out and how the leaves fit perfectly underneath it.  It will last us a lifetime, God willing.

This table cuts right to the heart of our family.  A lot of what is important in our home happens at this table.  It's probably not the table I'd choose today since we've had it over ten years.  It has some indentations in it (from my son's toddler days when he got hold of an adult sized piece of silverware)and couple of small paint stains from when the kids were little and painted on it.  (Never believe it when kid paint says it washable.) There have been times I've been tempted to go looking for a nice updated, rectangular table in cherry or maybe maple to match the cabinets in the house we're in now.  But I haven't.   And if our house were leveled by a tornado as some people's were today in Illinois, we'd go on without it and buy a new one and thank God that everyone was safe and nothing really important was lost.  But I would be sad at least for a moment about the loss. This table reminds me every day.  I know material things are not the most important things.  They are symbols that remind of us of what is important.  I'm all for something that keeps me aware of that.


Kim


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