Close your eyes and picture your family table. Does it look like June Cleaver in an apron and pearls, Ward in a sweater and tie? Are the napkins linen or are there no napkins at all? Are the kids scrubbed and sitting quietly waiting for dad to say grace or do they come rushing in from all directions? Does the steam rise from the homemade, not from a box casserole? Are you envisioning a place where your family regularly comes together with joy and anticipation?
Do you see the empty chair set at the table for the unseen guest? Will Jesus be joining you at your table? What are your memories around the table?
Today I would like to share with you some of my table memories. I have always loved tables. As a matter of fact, I’ve owned more tables over the years than any other piece of furniture. It is only recently that I realized why... they make me smile and remind me that life happens around the table.
At a later time, I will expand on many of these memories and how they have impacted my life. How God has used these experiences around the table to pull out of me purpose and destiny. But for today let me invite you into the heart of some of my dearest and earliest memories.
As a child, I was convinced my dad’s parents lived in a castle. I loved that 3 story stone house with ivy growing up the outside walls, big winding staircase, push button light switches, and lots of places to hide. It was there that I have my earliest memory of a table. This kitchen table attached to the wall was massive... the memory has probably grown like Pinocchio's nose over the years but I remember everyone coming together at this table. It was filled with 7 siblings, 3 spouses and lots of grandkids. I remember thinking it took forever to run from one end to the other. As grandkids, we would chase each other around the table and boy did we think that was the coolest thing. I don’t remember the food much but I can't forget the constant roar of laughter of toddlers entertaining themselves.
Our family holidays always included family celebrations with extended family around the dining room table with fine china, goblets, and lots of homemade food!
Speaking of food, I must say I also remember at a young age going to my mom’s parents for Saturday nite family dinner. As tradition would have it, we all sat in the dining room, 4-5 generations were always present and so were the famous homemade baked beans with “real” maple syrup (none of that fake stuff) and mini weenies (the kind that are attached) from the butcher. Sounds like great food was always present, right? Little did I know there would be a meal that I would never forget. This dinner looked much like thanksgiving dinner, It was a big and beautiful spread. Unfortunately, everything changed when someone slipped and said that it was not a turkey sitting pretty on the platter, rather it was Petey, my pet goose!*#! Let's just say I ruined the dinner for everyone, except my grandpa; he was the only one who ate.
As a sophomore in high school, I transferred to a private catholic high school that my dad had also gone to. Since we lived an hour away from the school, I moved in Monday - Friday with my grandparents who lived within walking distance of the school. During that time every night my grandma, great-grand Rubio and I would sit down to a multi-course homemade dinner. Grandpa would try to be there but he didn’t always get home from work in time. It was during those months that I remember Grandma Rubio telling me about Jesus and the power of prayer. I look back at those days and have since realized that during that season my great-grandma was praying for me… sadly she died about four months into my stay. The story has been told that on a day when I wasn’t there, she walked into the living room, lifted her hands towards heaven and passed into eternity. Shortly after that, I asked Jesus into my heart and I know that it was because of a grandma’s prayers.
As a teenager, my parents built a new home that would accommodate 8 kids. I remember it being so modern with all the bells and whistles. It was back in the days when an open concept was first being introduced. My favorite part of this home was the built in table, that went the entire length of the kitchen with a built-in hutch on the end facing out to the living room. It was the focal point of our home and was so big that all 10 of us could sit comfortably with room for guests. I must admit it was a rare day when it was only the family at the table. You always cooked enough, expecting guests to join us at the table for a home cooked meal. This table was not only for eating it was a workstation also. At this table, I remember my dad making a different apple dessert in the fall nightly. Yes every night, with 8 kids you bought apples by the bushel! At this table, I remember trying out new recipes and prepping for my own wedding (yes, I catered my own wedding ). At this table, I remember sewing all my own clothes, school projects and lots of long talks with my step-mother. At this table, I grew in many different ways, more now then I knew then. There was no doubt about it, life truly happened around the table.
When John and I got married I only remember 2 wedding gifts. I’m sure there were more but what I remember is a set of cheap glasses from my uncle and aunt. I remember thinking really, that is all you can spend? Of course, the other I remember would be a dining room table. John’s grandma had prayed many years (we were best friends for 8 years before marrying) that John and I would get married. Unfortunately, she passed away shortly after our engagement. As a wedding gift, John’s mom refinished the table that John’s grandparents had gotten when they were first married and had used for some 50 years before giving it to us. I didn’t understand the value of the table then like I do now. That table has zigged-zaggedacross the United states with us (It use to have 2 leafs… they now are in an attic of a garage in Virginia. OOPS!) This table, over 85 years old has weathered life well. There are many stories it can tell. It has heard much laughter, felt many tears, felt the sweat from endless hours of work... and its chair seats have been recovered more times than I can remember. It is at that table today that I sit and write to all of you.
I absolutely love table stories. Please feel free to share yours!