I guess a day like today shouldn't make me all melancholy, but it has. Because you see, that little table has been through nearly our whole marriage, thus far, and an awful lot of meals have been served on it.
It all started at a yard sale way up in St. Louis. My mom found this solid oak table with two leaves and four chairs....all for the meager sum of $50. But it was covered by multiple coats of paint. (Who would DO such a thing to a table??) But she could see the potential in it, and purchased it for us as a gift. It would have a long trip to make, and lots of work was needed to make it presentable, but we were now the proud owners of a real table. I could barely wait to say goodbye to the "dinette set with ripped green vinyl chairs". Quit laughing...you would have been too!
The work began, stripping off all of the coats of paint....to uncover the precious oak that made it into the sturdy table it was. And it had so much character....this table was a real "find". Darwin and his daddy worked tirelessly on refinishing what would soon be the table that would one day serve our family.
And serve us it has. It was just the two of us back then, and we didn't have the space in the little rental house, nor the need to use the two leaves. They were stored away for "down the road" when we would need them.
One by one the children came....a little faster than we planned or expected, and suddenly the need for the leaves had presented itself. We built our first "home of our own", and found out the week before we moved in, that we were going to have baby number two....just 18mo. after baby number one. And with additional children, came the need to insert the second leaf in the table.
Many a meal has been served on that table....and many an extra chair has been squeezed on to the side, so that all could fit and we could all eat together. Homemade birthday cakes to "save money" have been made and decorated on that table. Scrapbook pages have been created, pumpkins have been carved and some of life's biggest problems have been solved at that table.
But as our family has grown in number, it has also grown in size. Our children no longer need booster seats to fit at the table. Nope....now they just need a little elbow room. We have simply outgrown it...in every sense of the word.
Perhaps that is what saddens me the most. The reality that the reason we need a new table, is not simply the number of people, but the size of those people. Our children are growing up. And that is a hard pill to swallow. Oh sure....things get a little easier. Fewer spills at the table, and better manners....but along with that comes the reality that in a year from now, our oldest won't be eating dinner at our table. She will be away at college, beginning a new chapter in her life. And our oldest son will be in middle school, no longer a boy, but a pre-teen on the verge of a growth spurt that will definitely make sitting at a tiny table, less than practical.
At first I thought that I was the only one feeling sad about this. As a matter of fact, every time my husband mentioned getting a new table, I just couldn't even think about it. But then I found a table that looked like it had the potential to serve our family AND fit into a small area.
So today we all worked together assembling the new table and eight chairs. Everyone was excited and anxious to see the end result. But it was all I could do not to cry, when my sweet 7 year old came through the living room after it was all complete, and saw the disassembled "old table". Tears were in his eyes when he asked, "what are you going to do with this one?"
You see....even though he was the youngest child, and had eaten far less meals there than anyone else in the family, there was something about all of the memories that he didn't want to part with. And we won't. That table will be put away in the attic and saved for future memories. Perhaps it will belong to one of my children one day, and they can begin their life with their spouse and children and have a whole new set of memories around that table.
You know, when my daughter was in "Foods" class in middle school, the question was raised, "How many of you eat dinner with your family, every night around the table?" And out of a room full of kids, only two hands went up. My daughter's hand and one other person.
I can't believe how many conversations and memories they were missing out on! It spoke volumes to me when Jack was worried about what we would do with that table. It showed me just how meaningful and powerful those times had been.
Oh sure. We have a nice new table. But I wonder what new memories, meals & conversations are going to be had around this one? I can't wait to find out.
I'm just sayin'.