Thursday, December 15, 2011

At the Dinner Table

My dining room is not really a dining room at all. In its original form, it was a bedroom, a small 10 x 10 room that I turned into a dining room. There is no door, just an open, white trim doorway. The one time closet is now an inset with dark wood shelving from near top to bottom, that houses my pretty dishes and glasses, the walls inside, painted a dark burgundy colour. The window is rather large, takes up nearly the whole wall, with just a white lace valance. On a good, sunny day, this window splashes light on my terracotta colored walls, my dark wooden table and four black leather chairs. On the opposite wall of my window, I have two shelves that hold my many cookbooks, baking books, magazines and a few sun loving plants. My placemats have burgundy, terracotta, burnt orange and olive green stripes, with small glass beads at the edges. They are a beautiful compliment to my warm, sunny, comforting dining room.

Can you see it? Can you feel the sunshine warming your face?

I can. It is my favourite place to write, gather with my small family, have an afternoon coffee or glass of wine, and all too often, my favourite place to put way too many papers that clutter up the table and take away my serenity!

We eat at the dinner table often. My daughter is in charge of setting the table. She decides who will sit where, and sometimes, she writes our names on a piece of paper, a small offering of kindness to know that in this designated spot, we are welcome to sit and enjoy our meal.

Sometimes our dinner table is lively with laughter, talk of the day, upcoming plans we may have. It is also where we make new plans, discuss how we want to spend our summer vacation, making the occasional list. However, sometimes, if one of us is having a bad day, or not feeling well, our table is not so lively, it's a bit more hushed, turning sometimes into a silence that can be uncomfortable and broken by the drop of a fork, or a smile.

This other dinner table is in the large kitchen, just off to the corner in a little nook area, built specifically for a small table. There sits a table, wooden I think, oblong in shape, with five vinyl covered chairs with chrome legs. The double kitchen sink, is in plain view, and has directly above it, a big window that has a view of the apple tree in our backyard. I don't know if the sun ever did shine in that window, but I know that my mom sure looked out of it a lot. I always thought she must love doing dishes, because she was there so many times a day, wearing always, an apron around her waist that she had made. I sat at the dinner table, just to be near my mom, and I watched her in the kitchen so often, I memorized her moves.

It is at that same dinner table where I remember there was not always laughter, sharing of everyone's day, or kindness. I do remember fear, I remember respect, the formality of a saying by my dad, and I hate to this day, "well if that's dinner, I guess we've had it!" I remember a time that our plates were picked up and smashed into the kitchen sink, soiled still, with a dinner we did not get to finish, left for my mom to clean up. Someone must have disliked something served that night for dinner.

When we did finally move away from my dad, and joined my sister’s dinner table, we discovered lively conversation, around a dinner table big enough to fit our family and the friends we brought home from school. Around that table is where we ate, we laughed, we drank our coffee and we visited, oh we always visited around that table. That table saw lover’s quarrels, family fights, discussions, it held the games we played, the homework we did, and once even held my mom sprawled out on it posing for a picture with the family around her. We grew to have fun around our dinner table, and as teenagers, we ate there nearly every night and without fail, every Sunday!

I want our girls to feel that our dinner table is a safe place, a time to share, to ask questions, to laugh, make a joke, to compliment the cook on the hard work and love that went into creating the meal, no matter how simple or fancy. (Wow do I wish they actually did this!) I look forward to the day that I have a large enough dining rooms that will fit a table big enough for our two grown girls and one day, their family, and a whole lot of love and laughter! These are the things I want our girls to know about our dinner table.

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