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Gathered around the kitchen table


June 25, 2012
Billie Shelton , The Daily Freeman Journal

A couple of years ago as we sorted boxes and books and frames of family pictures, there was one theme that was repeated over and over: pictures taken in my parent's house at the kitchen table. Here's a neighbor over for coffee around that table, there's a brother blowing out his birthday candles, and here's a sister posing at the table during her high school graduation party. Later, it's a baby sitting on someone's lap at the kitchen table, toddlers with their grandpa having sweet tea or posing beside him in their Halloween costumes when they came to trick or treat.

So you could say that the good old kitchen table was the center of our family life. I always knew it was special, but - like anything you use and see every day - eventually one hardly notices it. This table is solid oak, a harvest table with fat, carved legs on each corner and in the middle of the table as well. That support is especially helpful because the lovely old piece still has five leaves. Pulling out the table to put them in, even some of them, is when you understand why this is known as a harvest table because it's easy to imagine an entire haying crew gathered around it to enjoy a hearty meal after a long, hard morning. Or a big family dinner, when there was room for everyone at the same table.

The story that goes with this table makes it special, too. When my parents built a new kitchen on the old farmhouse in 1953, they needed a different table and finally had space for one. A farmer down the road was moving to town about then and had no room for this big table that they got when they were married (about 100 years ago now, I figure), so my parents bought it for $3. Some years later my dad refinished it, removing dark old varnish and revealing a lovely light oak wood . He put a very hard finish on it, and it stood up to family use just fine.

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Trouble was the table didn't come with any chairs. So my dad went to a household auction in town, where he purchased four matching oak press back chairs. They were $1.50 each. The owners told my dad that the chairs were with them on the boat when they came from Germany. We always used them at the kitchen table, and those chairs are still strong and solid.

I feel honored to have this table in our kitchen now. Like my parents, I notice we always invite visitors to sit with us at the table, not in the living room. So many stories go with this table, so much good food enjoyed from it, and so many good times around it-both now and before.

Here's hoping that doesn't change any time soon.



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