by guest blogger, Katherine VanBuskirk
I think some of the best times of my life have been had around a family table. To me there is nothing as special as the moments that happen during the simple act of feeding a group of people.
Growing up we had supper together every night in our big family kitchen. My Mom would cook up delicious, hearty meals and all six of us would sit together and chat about our days.
And though my parents probably count those dinners among their favourite times as well,I’m sure their memories aren’t quite so rosy. They’d remember the variety of tantrums that sometimes played as a soundtrack to those family meals. Or might smile over the times a teenager stormed off during curfew or car negotiations. I know for a fact that they’d shake their heads as they describe my brother’s inability to stay upright in his seat, constantly falling spectacularly to the floor more than once during a meal.
And it wasn’t just suppers. We ate breakfast together as well. Sleepy-eyed and cranky, we’d gather at that table and eat a breakfast any dietician would approve of, before being bundled out the door for buses and cars to school and work.
In that room I learned about manners and feelings. I learned how to share opinions and respect different ones. I basked in the glow of approval on report card days and had heart to hearts about math homework. I came to know the strange discomfort caused by an empty chair. And I realized that no matter the size of a table, there is always room for one more.
Over the years the table in that room has grown – the original sacrificed to make way for one that is larger and more expandable to suit the needs of our family. Just this weekend we pulled chairs up to it, big and small ones for big and small people. Generations of family sat and ate and laughed together once again. Effortless. Perfect.
The closeness and security that grew from hours spent at that table is what made me know that when I had my own family, we would also eat together every night. Believe me, it’s hard with two working parents and activities. Some nights I want to send my little monsters on their way with a wrap and a juice box.
But we don’t.
We sit and eat together for whatever time we can manage. We have our fair share of tantrums. Most times we feel like our questions about school and friends bounce off them like rain on pavement. Sometimes we get the download. Sometimes we get serenaded with songs from music class, or hear a monologue about their intense hatred for sweet potato. Sometimes it’s a stand-up act act. Effortless. Perfect.
And while it’s hard to make it happen every night, in the end I’m so happy we do. Because I’m not sure of many things, but of this I am certain: someday when these littles are bigs, they too will count the lessons they learned around our small kitchen table among the most important of their lives.
Katherine VanBuskirk is a communications professional in Halifax. She is rarely without a latte, a list and at least one of her two children.