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The Dinner Table

Last June my brother Paul called one night to ask me a simple question: "Where did you sit at the family dinner table?" Even though my family lived in several different houses during my childhood, I instantly knew the table of which he spoke. I could easily conjure up the image of our little home on West Fourth Street in Meridian, where we lived for the first eleven years of my life (minus the first few months; lest anyone forget--I was a born in Kellogg).

In this day and age it would hardly seem feasible for a family of seven (make that eight, when Aunt Susie moved in), to live in a three-bedroom house. The rooms were small, there was no family room or bonus room, and all four of my brothers shared one room, with two sets of bunk beds. I suppose it might have felt small to my parents, but perhaps because it was all I had ever known, and because it was a different time (the late 60s and early 70s), it seemed more than adequate to me. It was normal. It was home.

And it was a the place where we had dinner together, all seven of us, nearly every night of my childhood. Paul's question immediately brought me the vivid visual memory of that little table and my place at it--sitting to mom's left, with my back to the sliding glass doors that led to the little patio and the backyard. A flood of images followed: roast, fried chicken, vanilla ice milk, creamed corn (which David loved and I hated--still can't stand the sight or smell of it), Spanish rice, Hamburger Helper, and three things--nay four--that my mom still can make better than your mom can: tacos, pizza, hamburgers, and potato salad.

We weren't overly formal in our table manners (I'm still not sure where to put my utensils), but if you'd joined us for dinner you would have heard "please pass the pork chops" (Oooh, mom's pork chops--and don't forget marinated cucumbers fresh from the garden). You would have heard "God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for this food, amen." And no one left the table without asking "may I be excused?"

If it all sounds like an episode of a 50s television show, that's because it was like that. It wasn't perfect and full of joy all the time, but it was about as idyllic as real life ever gets.

And now the seven of us have become 27. If that weren't miracle enough, we are 27 who genuinely love and like one another. I can't imagine any of my brothers marrying women more perfectly suited for them. I can't imagine their children being more lovely and charming and talented. Our teenagers don't turn up their noses at our old stories. On the contrary, they ask to hear them over and over (and they join in the teasing about old jokes, like "and then the ball came really close to the hole" or Leon Deckcircle).

Today, many of us will have the joy of gathering together (missing the others desperately but also reveling in the joy of so many present).  We will laugh and cry and thank God for our amazingly blessed family.

Today I bless the Lord for the dinner table of my childhood, and I blessed Him for the dinner table that can no longer contain our numbers or our joy.

Comments

  1. It's good to have your blog back Laur.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love it Coach. Great post. You've inspired me to do the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Coach. It was a fun one to write. Can't wait to read yours!

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