Written by: Joanne Beckley
Our big kitchen table occupied the center of our home with dignity. Much more than a place for family meals, it was also the site of our family’s recreation, education and discipline. It was the center of our home where we played together, studied our Bibles together or shared reading aloud many good children’s books. Houses and roads built of Legos, a sheet thrown over the table to create a tent, or a game of dominos –– they all took their turn at our table. The table was often piled with books as the boys did their homework there. When electricity was not available, the evenings took full heed to silence because Dad was at the table, preparing his sermons. Dad could not study with distractions around him and three sons and a wife were definite distractions.
Our dinners were filled with reports of the day’s observations and activities, with praise freely given when deserved. Because we all liked to be heard, the supper table wasn’t a quiet place –– the boys often arguing, telling tales on each other and loudly competing for attention, or Mom jumping up to refer to the encyclopedia to solve an argument. Dad tolerated the noise . . . to a point. When that point came activity was reduced to furtive glares and kicks and meaningful looks from Mom.
The boys honed their personalities around the table, battling fiercely for recognition. They learned the "thou-shalt-nots" of life, and the "love-one-another" rule, too. They also learned the rules of behavior after being banished to their rooms for a rude remark, sometimes a complaint concerning the food, or when Dad had "had enough." At the table they learned that sometimes life was not always fair.
Likewise, they learned that the injustices of life need not hold them back; that honors earned but not bestowed need not cause despair. Our kitchen table helped to prepare them to face the world with confidence. Through life at our table, our boys became aware of their responsibilities to society, the satisfaction of achievement, the necessity for authority and the joy of belonging.
Our table was large enough for us to gather around, but small enough to keep us close. Our table, like our home, instilled in each of us the worth of the individual and the gift of love for each other.
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” Deut.6:6-7
Do write and tell me about your kitchen table.