For some unknown reason, I was remembering sitting at the kitchen table with my parents and my two younger sisters when we were growing up in the ’50s and ’60s.
We did not have assigned seats at the table, but us five family members sat in the same places for years at a table designed for six.
When we were adults our parents told us how everyone got their place at the table.
The older of my two sisters sat next to my dad where he could help her. My mother sat at the end of the table with my younger sister on her left and my other sister between my dad and her.
As I was the oldest, I sat across from my dad and next to the younger of my sisters. They figured as I was the oldest I could take care of myself.
The sixth place at the table was used for the hired man my dad employed during the busy times of the year, which was every season except winter.
The table itself was bought new in the early 1950s. It had a white background with a random pattern of pink and grey (remember this was the 1950s) triangular shaped objects that looked like coat hangers with the hook missing.
The chairs were black and matched the table. The top was made of a wonderful new material called Formica.
Those chairs and table served us well until the kitchen was remodeled in the ’70s and the table and chairs were put in storage in an outside shed.
These did what tables and chairs did in kitchens all across the country. It was where we started our day with breakfast and where we met at day’s end for our family meal at suppertime. In between times it was a place to serve coffee to visitors, prepare more food, read the newspaper and listen to the noon markets during which no one was allowed to speak.
It was the place where stories, happy and sad, true and untrue, were told. It was where wrongs were attempted to be righted and grievances were heard.
A kitchen table on a farm takes on added importance because it is the place where plans are made and strategy sessions are held.
Fifty years later, my sisters have tables of their own in their kitchens and my parents are both gone. I am sitting at a different kitchen table, but everything else is the same.
Our kitchen table is the place where meals are served, hospitality is dispensed, a place of laughs and a few tears. It is the place where I am safe to express myself with whatever subject is deserving of my rant.
It is a place where people have felt safe to say things they do not want repeated.
This table was bought by my wife and me more than 10 years ago after she expressed a desire for a solid oak pedestal-style table. We found one that had been refinished and had extra leaves to make room for many people.
We have fed our children and grandchildren using it over the years, seating everyone, which is 12 people, at one time. Thanksgiving has become a traditional family gathering.
With the grandchildren growing in numbers and in physical size, we are outgrowing our kitchen table, a good problem to have.
We will do everything we can to find room for everyone and there will be a space available this Thanksgiving at the kitchen table as our daughter said she will not be able to attend this year’s gathering. She will be awaiting the arrival of grandchild number 11.
We should have an actual name by Dec. 1, if not before.
I do not know what the table’s history was before we bought it. It was a prized possession when it was new around 80 years ago and when we are done with it, one of our family members likely will become the next owner.
It will continue doing what kitchen tables do so capably.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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