My earliest memory of my mother’s table is sitting in the middle section surrounded by people, siblings, and other invited guests. I felt very small and very hungry. My mother had made a huge pot of spaghetti and a salad that I don’t remember what kind, perhaps a fruit salad? I don’t remember too many green lettuce salads from my childhood, there was potato, macaroni and fruit. I think that time it was fruit. The most important thing, though, was my mom put a loaf of store-bought bread on a plate to pass around. Oh boy, I did love bread and rolls! This time I was sure to get to eat because there were guests. I wouldn’t hear “you can have another roll or a slice of bread once you ate” whatever yuckiness she was serving. Once I managed to get past the giants barring my way, the bread was gone. I remember crying and I am sure my mother found a piece for me, but the devastation is what resides in my memory today.
Many of my memories growing involve the kitchen table. For some reason, I can remember so many of them. From the metal and linoleum look top to the wooded Danish one with the tile down the center my sister gave her, I sat at many of them. Over the course of my life, those sat with me at those tables diminished. I started out with a large family full of laughter, fights and ended with maybe just me and her at times. The food served on those tables changed as well. From flicking the nasty broccoli under my brother’s chair because I knew he wouldn’t tell on me to steaming my own broccoli and enjoying it.
The table was our gathering place at the end of the day. We would sit and tell about our day. How was school? How did you do on your test? Father wasn’t always home. He was in the Navy and off to sea during Vietnam, so Mom sat at the end of the table. Until we got older. Then she wouldn’t eat with us anymore. She said we were animals. I dunno. Maybe it was the See Food games where you open your mouth and say “See food?” Perhaps it was learning about creating levers with our spoons, flinging peas at each other. Who knows, we had fun.
Memories of pancake eating contests, fried chicken and mash potatoes and gravy, no dessert until you eat all of your food. Recollections of big sisters with boyfriends and Shore Leave sailors sniffing at other sisters. Memories of the food fights, being teased, rather starve than eat whatever THAT was. Doing our homework, practicing our drawing, and playing games on the different tables throughout the years. The thing was tables were for family and gatherings and doing things, it wasn’t for storage of the mail or packages received on the doorstep. It wasn’t for dropping the purses and setting down the fast-food bag, so you can rummage through and go eat your barely food on the couch.
Perhaps in this day of shelter in place, the table has become the home office and the classroom for many of you. While it’s true that my table is currently an office space for the honey, we still eat there. It is where we can sit down, eat, and talk. It is a decompression zone. Talking about our day even though we spent it with each other is mingled with talking about current events. It is a place for me to bounce creative ideas or, sometimes, creative problems off of the Honey. It is a place for him to bounce ideas off of me. Solutions can be had, problems can be worked through and reaffirmation of our like of each other can be found at the table. The best part? We can stop and talk to the Lord before we eat.
Bless us, Oh Lord,
and these thy gifts which
we are about to receive from thy bounty,
through Christ, Our Lord.