Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Kitchen Table (K)

I think everyone in the world
should have a kitchen table.

It doesn't have to be large
or fancy
or even comfortable.

It just has to be a welcome spot.
An anchor.
A haven where families can retreat
after a hard day at work
or school
or play.

I remember the kitchen table of my childhood
better than any other piece of furniture that we had.

The big chrome legs
were a metal forest to hide in
when my brothers
were chasing me with a bug.

The red and gray vinyl chairs
made great ladders-
and a perfect perch to watch mom
mix cake batter.

The red Formica top
with it's little silver swirls
was an ideal spot
to stretch out with poster paper
and a box of crayons-
or thick yellow Play-Dough
and a wooden rolling pin.

But sometimes the kitchen table
was a place for adults only.
Days when old relatives
or church people came-
and us kids were shooed off
to play on the swing set.

My dad would always spring for
Dixie Cream Donuts-
placing that fragrant blue and white checked box
in the middle of the kitchen table-
the jelly donuts inside
oozing with sweetness-
our mouths watering for dessert-
our little hearts hoping
there would be plenty of leftovers
once the adults had their fill.

And there always was...

The kitchen table became a hub
of hot, black cups of coffee.
A place of sharing and friendship.
Where there was the
clink of spoons in the sugar bowl.
The fog of cigarette smoke.
The heartiness of laughter.

Dad had his very own chair at the head of the table
and we would sit all around him at meal time
and watch him press cold pats of butter into grape jam-
spreading it on Mom's famous canned biscuits.

We respected him and loved him
and knew that rude behavior would not be tolerated
at the kitchen table-
or anywhere else, for that matter.

The kitchen table was a magnet we were drawn to.
A safe place where we shared stories and dreams.
Where we released our joys and our tears.
Where we spoke of the past and the future.

Where we knew- without a doubt-
that we belonged.

The kitchen table held tender roast and potatoes
every Sunday afternoon-
and maybe a pineapple cake afterward.

And I remember platters of pork chops,
bowls of tomato soup,
thick slices of fried Blue Bell bologna
slapped on fresh, white bread.

And Mom's quirky French Toast,
dipped in egg and corn flakes
and butter fried till crispy.
I still love it that way now.

We were never hungry.
Neither physically, emotionally
or spiritually.

Our kitchen table was a circle of love.
A meeting place where family bonds
were forged and founded.

A place where we finger painted
and polished shoes-
and bowed our heads to pray.

The kitchen table was our heartbeat.
Our refuge.
Our place of contentment.

I can still feel the cool surface of the table top-
the smiles of my brothers and sisters-
the affection between my parents...

and the treasure of growing up loved
around the kitchen table.