My mother’s table always seemed so much larger as a child. I do recall that its seating was for six, however, adding the “leaf” would seat eight. We seemed to always have at least four of us and a neighbor or two on a regular meal day. Thanksgiving was always a different story. I think my parents would have loved to have had a room built just for eating with friends and family. My grandmother on my mother’s side of the family was always with us at holiday meals. My dad was known for giving and since my mother knew this about him, she would always make extra. It was nothing to find a pumpkin pie missing because he found out that there was someone who didn’t have much on their table. This was his usual, not just holidays. My parents were truly those people who would “give the shirt off of their backs” I had some shirts come up missing on some occasions (true story).
I have blogged previously about the hard Thanksgivings, of not having as much during the coal strike, etc. you can read those in my previous blog pages (Thankful in All Things/November 2012) ..This year, I will blog about the things I fondly remember about my seat at that table.
My seat was usually to the right of my Mother with my parents at each end of the table. My brother was usually on the opposite side of the table across from me. My grandmother could always be found to my mother’s left, leaving room for one or two of our friends in the extra chairs. As far as I can remember, my seat seldom changed unless we had company, then the children would always be seated at the bar that separated our kitchen and living room. Regardless, when we were seated to have a meal, we followed the same protocol. Only after everyone was seated, my Dad said the blessing, and my mother would always leave her seat to get the extra things we needed like salt, or something else we requested. Her food, I am sure was always cold yet she never complained. My Dad finished few meals without being called out on a rescue call or someone in need. It was common for us to see his plate covered in foil, while the rest of us ate our food.
We were not permitted to argue at the dinner table (or sing) lol . Controversial subjects were for other times during the evening. Dinner time was light-hearted conversation and enjoying what we had and each other. I noticed at my own table that I have followed some of the same, no arguing..and we do not scatter to the living room, we eat together at the same table every single day.
My Mother planned weeks ahead for Thanksgiving meals. I remember her for these parts of holidays, but there are more that I remember about her table.
Her table was a place where anyone was welcome. If she didn’t have room around her table, she made room. She would pull up a desk chair, or my piano bench for a couple of us. I never once heard her say “we just can’t have all these people here at one time” never did I hear her complain about fixing extra food. At her table, you were always treated like family. My Dad was a major part of this too, I do not exclude him at all. It just happens to be that the kitchen was my Mother’s domain. It is where she served others. I never worried about any of my friends being unwelcome here. She made it a point to find out their favorites just so she could make those things for them. She never asked “why” there were extra people at her table. It was irrelevant. You were not required to call ahead of time to visit, or if she was busy, she stopped what she was doing and made time for your visit. People were more important to her than her routine, and they meant more to her than having a spotless house. She will long be remembered for her kindness to people, not her tolerance for them.
Who would have thought that I’d give so much time today to a table? It was the thread that tied us all together on many occasion. Whether or not it was a holiday, you always had a seat.. your seat. The coffee was never stale, there was always some type of dessert, and an iced cold Double-Cola in the refrigerator. It was also where I did my homework, many times it was the battle ground for a game of Scrabble or Chess, maybe canasta. Mostly, it was a place where I learned some of the most important things in my life. I find that today, where most people use their table as the judge’s bench and their non-compassionate words as the gavel, there is no room for serving, unless it is a spoonful of self-righteous judgement upon others. I surely miss my Mother’s table.
I want my table to resemble that of my Mother’s. Servanthood is a thing of the past, but if you find yourself here? I will do my best to make you feel welcome. I guarantee the coffee will always be fresh, and there will be always be sweet tea in my fridge. I can always throw together a dessert. Mostly, may you leave my table with a planted seed of encouragement and a glimmer of hope for your tomorrow. One day, just maybe? my daughter will remember her Mother’s table as fondly as I have today.
For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another.Galatians 5:12-14