Has it ever struck you what an important part of your life is spent in the presence of or seated at the table?
We bought our kitchen cum dining room table about eighteen years ago from one of those furniture shops in the backstreets of our town, Windsor, Berkshire, which was offering ‘Solid Pine tables at knockout prices!
We wanted the six footer but the room that the table was going to be living in was a little cramped so we settled for the five footer and six matching chairs and I’ve regretted it ever since! That is until this morning.
It suddenly struck me today what an important part in our family life the table and those six matching pine chairs have played.
It has both witnessed and been through so much together. When the table and matching chairs first arrived chez nous, we purchased some special beeswax polish to keep the wood feeling and smelling fresh. Everyday my wife or occasionally I, would stroke the wood with this special wax, coaxing the shine to appear and lovingly polishing the wood. The table certainly responded and we became proud of the rich grain that shone through confirming that this indeed was a quality piece of furniture! Then our two young children set to work. Playtime at the table with those paints that some well meaning or mischievous relative buys, felt-tip pens from a far away trip and ‘my first’ baby knife and fork set and yet the table didn’t complain and as our lives became busier and busier, the daily waxing of the table became weekly and then tailed off into an occasional once over, just for special events.
The table has celebrated our first Christmas with our young son and then his sister. A total of seventeen family members crowded around the table one other Christmas, banging elbows and trying to claim their space alongside a friendly second table, bought from Habitat twenty years ago that lives in our garage!
I’ve sat at the table to do the mundane and the exceptional. From month end management reports to writing a family will, these activities always taken place at the table.
I know some families who will call their children to the table and discuss important life events; Dad’s changing his job, we’re moving to Australia, that type of thing. I can’t say we’ve ever done that directly at the table but we have held nevertheless important conversations about the topics that play an important part in our lives.
I remember with fondness, my father in law as well as my own mother, sitting at the table over a Sunday roast. In the summer, when we’ve held parties, we would move the table up against the wall and cram it full of salads, fresh rolls and cakes and desserts. Once the party had finished, the table would be moved back to it’s rightful place in centre of the dining area, perhaps with a beeswax polish!
I also recall the first year that my daughter decided that she would take charge of dressing the table for Christmas. She went shopping with her mum and came home with a beautiful throw and some festive gold place mats. Glitter adorned the table and our special silver wedding cutlery, that had passed it’s twenty five year guarantee, was dispatched alongside individual place settings. Very grand – the table knew how to perform in front of an audience.
Observing our family, my autistic son can’t wait to get away from the table once he’s finished his meal. We have to call him a few times before he arrives in the first place, and once here, he wolfs down his food in silence before requesting to leave the table, his mouth still full of food!! Myself, on the other side, prefers what the Spanish call, ‘sobremesa’, a congenial post dinner conversation with a glass of wine and a chance to chew over the days events.
Currently the table has taken on the role of floristry workshop – Ruscus and Gerbera cover the table alongside all the paraphernalia associated with making Hand Ties. I know that once the creations have been finished and wrapped up in cellophane, it’s going to be up to Mum or Dad to put the table and surrounding area back to normality!
Now where’s the Beeswax?!