Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I remember that day clearly. Years ago, Fitz had broken through the wall between our kitchen and dining room to make one massive space. The space needed a new table. We spent a morning driving around, looking at dining room sets. But nothing seemed to jump out at us. Until we saw "the one". We were at an upscale, funky furniture store, with prices way beyond anything we would be willing to pay. But it was artsy and eclectic, and fun to browse. The table jumped out at both of us. Solid pine, 7 feet long and 4 feet wide, with a built in drawer. It was huge. And it was beautiful. And it was about twice what we had thought of paying for a table. I remember leaving the shop, and sitting in our old truck for a good long while discussing that table. It was too much, not practical, too big. But in the end, we had both fallen in love with that table and went back in to buy it. It cost enough that we knew we wouldn't even be able to buy chairs to go with it. But in the same philosophy that has gotten us through many years of marriage, we figured "it'll all work out somehow."
That table turned out to be one of the best purchase of our marriage. I remember bringing it home, and a friend helping Fitz carry it in. Once in the kitchen, it looked twice as big as it had in the store. For a brief moment, we wondered what we had been thinking. But it was beautiful, and we still loved it.
Those early years, we only had a small handful of kids, and they were just babies. But it was a strong, sturdy table, and just right for toddlers learning to climb. There are pictures somewhere of kids at various ages sitting right in the middle of that table during dinner. Pictures of babies sound asleep on their plates, sitting in their clip on highchairs. Many, many pictures of birthday cakes at that table. Thanksgiving dinners, Easter Brunches, and the buffet set up at our infamous Memorial Day birthday bash.
As the years have gone on, that table has seemed smaller and smaller, but it is still just as sturdy. It has nicks and grooves from Hot Wheels crashes. The top is faded and here and there are hints of old stains from play dough and markers. Wednesday night spaghetti sauce and spilled wine. Each small dent and stain just adds to the history of the table, the history of our family.
As the kids grow, it seems there are always extras at the table these days. But it doesn't matter, we've never yet had a meal where everyone didn't fit. Whether it's just the 9 of us, or there are several friends at the table too, it's always cramped, loud, and incredibly full of love. Kaleigh had a friend over for dinner last night. We barely made it through grace before some milk was spilled. You could hardly hear the person next to you, with everyone talking over eachother, telling the stories of their day, laughing and teasing. Towards the end of the meal, Kaleigh's friend said it was the best dinner he's ever had. I'd like to pat myself on the back for the awesome lemon chicken and roasted potatoes I cooked, or my apple stuffing. But I know that's not it. That table... it's magic.