I was recently sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of tea. I was gazing out over the backyard and field beyond just contemplating life in general. Time continues to fly by and now, more than ever, I find myself thinking back on the years gone by. I’ve been thinking of the years gone by, where we are right now and what lies ahead for me and the Love of My Life as he nears retirement in the next several months. We are starting to make retirement plans for the future.
Sitting there, it dawned on me how many memories have been made around that rickety old kitchen table. There have been 4 generations at some point in time gathered around that table. I can remember sitting at the table with my grandparents and my young kids chattering non-stop at them. And they listened intently and responded to each one of them. Those are some of my kids favorite memories also. Having a captive audience.
At that table, recipes had been handed down. I remember the last Christmas my mom was with us, we sat at the table rolling out the dough for homemade doughnuts. It was a family recipe that was her grandma’s. We chatted about so many different things, from being pregnant to the two of us fishing for Bullheads up at the cabin. To this day, I make those doughnuts at Christmas and think of that day with my mom. It is always a bittersweet moment.
Besides the usual cooking and eating at the table, family budgets were worked out. Decisions between buying a gallon of gas to get to work or a gallon of milk for breakfast cereal. There were times that the kids had hot cereal with a scoop of ice cream on it. To this day that is still how Malt-O-Meal is made around here.
Heated discussions and all out arguments happened around the kitchen table, kids have been told they were “grounded for life” only to be reversed when cooler heads prevailed. While there were arguments at that table, it always ended with sitting around the table and resolving the arguments.
I think back to so many meals when the kids were younger; stories of how their days went in school. Stories in graphic detail of a kid who puked up their lunch in the cafeteria, who got in trouble, what teacher was cool and what one was mean. Typical stories around a table full of teenagers. One night, the 2 boys who were in high school at the time, were towering over me and hovering around in the way while I was trying to get supper going. They were eyeing each other and chuckling at some secret joke between them. When we finally sat down for supper and I got up to get something I saw it. They had dyed the top of their heads in the high school colors of black, bright red and white. It was homecoming week. We all had a good laugh on how I never caught it until they were sitting down. From that moment on, the short mom jokes began and continue to this day as the grandkids are starting to tower over me.
As the kids grew up and moved out, the table became the meeting place, the place where we would sit down and they would fill us in on their lives. There was exciting news of marriage proposals, pregnancies and adoptions. There was also news of sadness and sorrow of friends of theirs killed in war, miscarriages and relationship breakups. That table always allowed all topics to be discussed no matter how hard or difficult.
For some reason the kitchen table became the safe haven where the kids could sit down, maybe eat a meal or snack and spill their guts to us parents. So many life changing decisions have been made at that table. It is where our youngest daughter came home and sat down with us. She told us she had enlisted in the Air Force, much to my dismay and concern and outright protest. There was so much instability all over the world. I was afraid for her. That was 10 years ago. For her it was the right decision. It is where she has made a career, met her Marine husband, and had a little girl 5 years ago. And that little one is giving both her parents a run for their money with her questioning important things in her world. That little one definitely keeps her parents on their toes and her mom grounded. I've realized my daughter has a daughter just like she was when she was little. And I love to watch the two of them together.
Recently several of the grandkids were sitting around the kitchen table chatting and laughing with each other. It was such a complete joy to see that generation #4 will carry on the family tradition of making the kitchen table the center of activities here at our table and in their homes around their tables. I eventually sat down with them and they were full of questions about when I was a kid and also had questions about their other grandma who died in a car accident years before they could have memories of her. We laughed and there were some unshed tears welling up and I realized this was one of those moments that will be cherished and put in the memory bank for a time when I may be sitting at the table alone.
Memories and life lessons have been passed around that old beat up table as much if not more than Tater Tot hotdish. For our family whether there is food on it or we are just all crammed around it in chairs and on stools, it has always been and will continue to be the heart beat of our home now and for generations to come.