Sundays at 4 (or, a rememberance of days gone by)

August 23, 2012

Tonight I uncovered something in my home that I haven’t seen in months. It had been so long since I had seen it, that I wasn’t sure it was still there, in fact.  In true archaeological fashion, I unearthed….

… My dining room table.

And it got me thinking about days gone by, just in general, but also in my own personal life.  When did the dining room table become the “catch all” spot?  How did I let this occur…and more importantly, how do I prevent it from happening again.  Now, I know what you’re thinking…is it really that big of a deal?  And for that, I will simply say YES.  So much can be learned, shared, debated, and put to rest around the dinner table.  You just don’t get that same feeling while eating your dinner in front of the television- I’m sorry, but you just don’t.  And it makes me sad to realize that these glorious pieces of furniture may become “something you have” rather than something you use…a true piece of archaeology for future sociologists to analyze.  As I uncovered my table, I whispered an almost silent apology to it, and made a vow to do better… to treat it better and with the respect that my dear table deserves, because YES, it is that big of a deal.

Here’s a little bit about my dining room table.  In my current house, it is the only table for us to eat at.  We do  not have a breakfast nook, a “bar”, an island, or an eat in kitchen.  We have a dining table, and an exquisite one at that.  The table has been passed down from family member to family member and was originally my great grandmother’s.  It’s huge.  Wide, rounded, and sturdy (not to mention heavy as hell).  Her seats creak and groan, the legs of the table are a little more wobbly now than they were originally, and she certainly shows her age.  Usually, I keep her covered with an extra wide table cloth (she’s a big girl!), but when I don’t- It’s magic.. because you see, this table…this place of gathering the family… it can tell stories. 

There are water glass rings, and scratches- marks from dishes that were too hot, (I’ve left a few marks of my own), dings and knicks… this table is close to 100 years old, at my best guess…I may be wrong on that, but she’s old.  Sometimes, people ask me why I don’t just sand it down and refinish it.  I could never.  It would erase her stories and her character, and to me, that is worth so much more than a perfect looking table.  It’s part of it’s beauty- being able to sit here at the same table that so many of my family members have sat at, and wonder, just a little bit, about who left that mark.  What were they eating on the night they left that water ring?  Which move put that little ding in the the one corner?  I try and picture my family gathered at this table with friends, enjoying a night of food, laughter, and love.  Much like we use to gather at my grandma Buffy’s table.

Every Sunday of my childhood, for probably the first 12 years, we went to Buffy’s for dinner.  Sundays at 4 were a special time.  And though I can’t recall what she cooked on any given Sunday.  (I assume a roast, but honestly, I can not recall for the life of me.)  I can remember the faces, the clinks and clatters, and the general buzz about the kitchen and dining room on those Sundays.  Sometimes there’d be 6 of us, sometimes 10, and my favorites, the Sundays where almost everyone was home… and we’d try to fit 15 to 20 of us all around the table.  There’d always be rolls, and salad… and Buffy would always sit at Pappap’s side and lead Grace.  Someone would say “Hit it, Pat” and off she’d go.  Ultimately, Pappap would make “monkey” faces at me while she did, I’d stifle a giggle, and mum would nudge me under the table.  Grace would end and daddy would start singing “Sing it overrrrrr…”  and the clink and clank of forks and knives would commence.  There we would sit, eat, and catch up on the week with one another until finally the food was cleared, coffee was poured, and the Russell Stover’s candy box made its’ appearance.  They were the happiest times of my life.

And so, as I stood in front of my dear dining room table tonight, finally unearthed, and in all of her glory… I had to wonder- will my children and grandchildren get to experience this?  Will they look back years later with the same fondness that I do for these times at the table?  I hope so, and plan to make every attempt to continue the tradition of Sundays at 4.

Until next time…
Happy Eating,
J

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