Food has always been my thing. I mean it. Like, not in the cute way that other people love food, more in the obsessive and annoying way. I’m literally dreaming about dinner before i’ve even had lunch! What a weirdo! Literally 2 days ago started squealing when we saw the weeniemobile. Some of you don’t even know what that is! There’s my proof. It’s an illness! lol. But I’ve come to discover that my love for food was probably born out of my life around the kitchen table. I am who I am because of the tables I have sat at.
Growing up at the 1011, I spent every morning and evening around our circular oak table with my two sisters, mom and dad. We would learn about dad’s day air-traffic-controlling. He would teach us things like how to tell a F16 from an F18 from the ground, what a trolling motor is, and if horses love each other. Mom would share the details of her day. “I cut 150 4-inch hippopotamus’ using kid-sized scissors — get your elbows off the table — for the entire Kindergarten class today — don’t holler at the table.” Over the years, real life happened around that table. I can’t tell you how many times one of us randomly burst into tears as dad sat utterly bewildered. It’s an ongoing family joke now that we ought not eat together because somebody will inevitably end up in tears. At this table I learned that family is number one. Nobody will ever get me like me sisters. And sometimes I just have to cry, and that’s ok! This table taught me (and continues to teach me to this day) to sit and stay in the mess of relationship, even when you want to stomp out of the room and slam the door.
The next table I think of is the large rectangular cherry wood table at MawMaw and PawPaw’s house. My dad’s parents were the two best cooks i’ve ever known. Every Thanksgiving, the two of them would work together in their tiny galley kitchen (genuinely 12 square feet of standing room), cranking out some of the most magnificent meals I’ve ever sat down to eat. They had no fear of butter, sugar, or bacon grease, praise the Lord! PawPaw would roll around the tiny kitchen in his rolling chair (that he cooked in! HA!) with shouts of “Salt that, MawMaw!” as MawMaw puttered around, constantly adding butter to things asking “Paw Paw, would you cut that up for me?” If asked if the cornbread dressing needed more sage, the answer was always yes. Their kitchen was truly so small that most of the work spilled over to the dining table located just off the kitchen. I have memory upon memory, sitting at that table just off that tiny kitchen watching Maw Maw and Paw Paw cook together. It was honestly like a dance. PawPaw would roll to the sink with a golden turkey while MawMaw side-stepped, turned, and spun around him to put the potatoes on the stove. They’d continue in this manner, working seamlessly in tandem for hours, days even! But what made it all the more beautiful, was the spirit that filled that tiny kitchen. The two of them were unashamedly in love and nothing delighted either more than being in the kitchen together cooking. This table taught me two things. 1. ALWAYS save the water you boil your potatoes in. Then, when you mash your potatoes, add some of that potato-y water back in. MM! Trust. 2. Love is what makes your home truly beautiful.
Finally, the kid’s table at Noni and Papa’s house. Genuinely one of the most fun places on this earth. When I do the math, we only had 10 or 12 people at the table, but in my memory it’s closer to 25. This table was rowdy, hysterical, filled with laughter and always had a lovely white eyelet table cloth, and glass salt and pepper shakers. Will would say something stupid in a funny accent “Girls! We have to go find the holiday purses!”, while Ben pretended to trip and threw a basket of rolls through the air. Jessie would impersonate Uncle Joe, while Thomas tried to convince Paula that Neutrogena bar-soap was a piece of cheese. (She believed it, tasted it, and squealed) lol even writing that description… it’s acutely accurate, insanely all-over-the-place, and makes me laugh! This table has grown over the years as cousin’s marry and have their own children. This table, (technically two folding card tables) taught me, and has maintained, a spirit of playfulness. Yes, there’s something to be said for manners, but there’s even more to be said for laughing hard.
I’m grateful for the tables i’ve sat around that have formed me and so grateful for those who have sat with me.