The Dinner Table
Growing up when all of us kids were home our small kitchen table held seven of us. Mom sat at one end of the table right in front of the old oven. Against the wall sat Mike next to Mom, Dave, the youngest, in the middle, and I by Dad. Dad sat on the other end of the table, with Perry and Cindy on the other side. The picture is of the table that sits silently today in our old house.
Mom was a great cook. I especially liked her fried chicken. I can still hear it sizzle in her cast iron skillet as she expertly prepared it, not too high a temperature so the chicken would come out golden brown. As soon as the chicken plate hit the table I reached for the wings, my favorite. Brother Mike resented me grabbing the wings so would often drop the bone from his leg piece into my glass of milk or Kool-Aid.
Breakfasts were some of my favorite mealtimes with the family. Especially on Saturday mornings when we went fishing with Dad, Mom would get up early and fix us biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs with sausage or bacon, or pancakes. The smell of breakfast cooking mingled with coffee woke us up often before Dad walked in to pull the sheets from our beds. I’ll never forget the one time I sat at the breakfast table, sleepy and without my glasses on. I put my mason jar on the table to pour myself a glass of milk, only to quickly realize I set the jar upside down as milk splashed everyone, with Dad exclaiming, “Boy, what are you doing?”
After my sister went to college, our dinner table was rearranged. My new post was beside Mom. Mom didn’t have a drink with her meal. Instead, she would occasionally take a sip from my glass. I would ask her again and again, “Why don’t you get your own drink?” Her answer was always the same. “Yours tastes better!”
Sometimes those dinner meals were anxious times, as we waited for Dad to come home from his construction job. When one or all of us had gotten into trouble, Mom would often say, “Wait until your dad gets home.” Those words sent deep, penetrating chills down our spine. I remember one day Mike hit a baseball through one of our living room windows. I can still hear him screaming as he aimlessly ran down Bear Creek Road (HH highway back then) away from our house, “Dad’s going to kill me!” But all would always eventually be well.
I cherish the memories of those meals, from the smells of Mom’s amazing cooking of fried chicken, pork chops, fresh ham and beans with pancake cornbread, to the sounds of laughter, teasing and reflections on our day. Those were sacred moments of our family together gathered around the dinner table.
That’s one of the reasons I love how at Young Life Camps across the country all camps have round tables in the dining halls, where leaders and their youth can sit together and share three meals a day while at camp. For many of these kids living in broken homes or homes where the family rarely eats together, these become some of their favorite memories of camp. Sacred moments of friends sharing a meal with laughter, teasing and memories from the day and anticipation for the coming day.
Maybe it’s why, on Jesus’ last night, he shared a final meal, the Passover meal, with his followers. As He broke the bread and poured the wine, our Lord encouraged his disciples to “do this in remembrance of Me.” It was a powerful time together; one his followers would never forget.
I envision the new Kingdom of the new heaven and new earth come together as proclaimed in the end of the Bible as a wonderful reunion of families, the earthly families mingled with our heavenly family. Meals will be shared around dinner tables, unhurried, joyous, and full of laughter and rich conversation. When I remember meals with my family growing up, I see a small slice of the joy of what awaits one day, and I smile.
It sound like our lives was a lot alike. There was, 7 of us kids. I don’t know how my parents did it. But, I never needed anything more, than what they gave me. We were a poor family. But my Life was rich. I wouldn’t change a thing. I think it made me stronger. Kids don’t know how to enjoy life now. They think if they don’t have a phone, they are poor.
I Love, Love, Your stories.
Keep them up.
Our table was big, but not everyone got to sit at the table. Some of the younger ones had to stand. I guess that was because they were shorter.