Many plans are made at the kitchen table. The altar of ideas between close friends and family members. This humble household furniture must be regarded as the sacred family institution.
It is the hitching post for family values, the gang plank for homework and the negotiation place for car keys. We should all honor this unassuming friend. Not even worth a proper name, this device serves bachelors, lovers, big families and empty-nesters. Who wouldn’t you claim this first when inheritance are offered for distribution?
The other day Jennifer stopped by to visit her best friend Robin, our sister. “Only a minute,” she declared. “I’m not here for dinner.” You know that you’ve been anywhere a long time when hunger invites another meal. Sitting long enough to witness two meals is not remarkable, it’s commitment: devotion to the ones we love. Jennifer slowly unwinds her tale. Clearly she kept a stone in her shoe that week. One that needed to be exhumed safely among friends. We welcome that. By the evening end, she departed a little bit more complete and a bit more resolved. We filled her cup as best we knew how. And her wine glass too!
Today the kitchen table fascinates. Ever wonder how much has been written in prose or in poetry about this subject? Rachel Remen has book called Kitchen Table Wisdom. It’s focus is more on the wisdom than the table. There’s Kitchen Table Poets and a nice poem from Mike Dunn about Mom’s Kitchen Table.
Likewise, many cookbook authors bend the metaphor for selling recipes. “Bobby’s Family Table” or something like that. The pictures show rosy cheeked people in a swirl in conversation. Perhaps young children peeking from behind tall, ribbon-wrapped chairs. That’s the art director or the clever photographer’s fingerprint. Yes, these moments do occur. However in the dreamy landscape of photography, too much becomes idealized. Some movie which plays out in front of us. How many times can we recall a perfectly balanced shot in the dead of Summer, when heat nearly melted all cheer? The fairy tale which unfolds from beautiful picture books betray any of those bitter notes. But this shall not be a discourse about beautiful lies. This treatise is about the kitchen table.
Think about the nicks and the stains that a proper kitchen table carries over time. These scars show an object in motion. A motion of communion and conversation. When we visit other homes lavishly arranged with comfy furniture and elegant decor, where do the guests huddle? Yes, the kitchen. But more importantly around the table. We are comforted by its lowly position, its uncanny familiarity. We are drawn to the warm of wood and forgiveness that worn furniture affords. Make a mark? Who would ever know!
So let us vow to pay honors to the kitchen table, the one on whose back we dance or nourish ourselves. Let us find a moment to observe it for what it does and whom it serves. Maybe a national holiday is in order. Maybe it’s time collect famous kitchen tables into our museums. Let us gather photos of our own and post them on Facebook. Or create a smart phone app with a kitchen table presented daily. Or maybe, we should just saddle up once more for a meal, a talk, or a silent cry. And thank the heavens that we have a place to be our best selves.