With the addition of Abel, our kitchen suddenly felt very crammed- chairs and high chairs everywhere! I got it in my mind that I wanted a big table out in the sunny room- a dining table that would fit our own family, and more.
I got on marketplace and craigslist and for months badgered Rory, “quick! I need you to drive to Brooklyn Park and pick up this big oak table. It comes with 8 chairs I don’t like, but they come as a package, so we’ll try to resell them. Just go now.” Rory would look back at me plainly, “Um. No. That would take my entire day.”
This went on for some time. I’m impulsive and excitable, Rory is steady and focused. Together we can have a good time AND get things done.
It was in November that I told my Aunt Louie, my mom and Aunt Annie about my hopes for a big table in the front room. My Aunt Annie quietly mentioned that we could have her table, they had just gotten her mother-in-law’s table in preparation for downsizing. She mentioned that it was a very wide table, and with all the leaves it can seat 18.
Then almost as an afterthought she said it had been my grandma’s table from her childhood. That actually, come to think of it, it was built by my great, great grandpa Andrew for my great, great grandma Jennie. The same Andrew and Jennie that I spent 2020 researching and writing about.
I blurted, “I don’t even care what the table looks like! That is the table of my dreams!”
Because it is. More than I could ever ask or imagine- sentimental in every way, and full of meaning.
My grandma was interviewed in 1996. She grew up with her grandparents and parents and six siblings all living in one farm house. In her interview she told of her table.
“The kitchen was the most important room in the house. In the middle of the room was the table. Of course, everything was done on that table. We washed dishes on that table, we kneaded the bread on that table, we stirred up our cakes on that table. It was certainly an all purpose table. I’m certain we even bathed the babies on that table.”
“At breakfast time we had devotions. Grandpa would read from the Swedish Bible, Grandma would mouth every word that he read. After Grandpa read a certain amount of scripture we would all kneel by our chairs and pray. Grandpa would pray in Swedish and Grandma would pray in Swedish. Then Mother and all of us kids would pray the Lord’s Prayer and Dad would say the blessing in Swedish.”
That is the table I have in my front room right now. Rory went to pick it up from Aunt Annie’s a few weeks ago. And since then we have had three meals where every leaf was put in and every spot filled. A big table with every spot filled- mark that down as one of my favorite things in life.
Yesterday we had Christmas Dinner and before ate we sang, “Be present at our table Lord, Be here and everywhere adored. These mercies bless and grant that we may strengthen for thy service be.” And that’s just how it feels- that the Lord is present.
Our own family has had many special moments around the table as well. We still eat most of our meals in the kitchen, but special ones have been moved to the new table.
The funny thing is that the table is not perfect. In fact, you might think it was built like a hundred years ago or something. Each time we make it big, there are some leaves that bump up and some that slope down and Rory will crawl underneath and move the rails all around trying to level the top. He’ll pretend he’s great, great grandma Jennie, “Hey Andrew? I need you to get under this table again and level it out for me. So that one day our great great descendants can do the same…”
It makes me laugh. Harder than Rory. But there is no topping the meaning and stories and feasting and joys and sorrows that have been shared around this table.
Be present at our table Lord!