There is something magical about a kitchen table. While it may be at its most visually appealing when the hardwood is stained with food, its inner beauty is revealed through the conversations that occur around it. I believe kitchen tables are composed of invisible magnets that draw people to them.
I cannot tell you how many nights my roommates and I spend sitting at our kitchen table. Sometimes we are accompanied by hot chocolate and homemade popcorn, but most of the time it is just the four of us in our pajamas and slippers. Oddly enough, we spend more time talking than actually eating at our table. I know doctors say it is bad, but I seldom eat at an actual table. Yet, I continue to find myself there.
In her book “Kitchen Table Wisdom,” Rachel Remen credits the kitchen table’s significance to its unbiased nature.
“The kitchen table is a level playing field,” Remen said. “Everyone’s story matters. The wisdom in the story of the most educated and powerful person is often not greater than the wisdom in the story of a child, and the life of a child can teach us as much as the life of a sage.”
This reminds me of meals at my house back in Minnesota. You do not know ridicule until you sit down for dinner with three teenagers, two overly honest sisters, a grandma whose hearing ability is declining, a parent with extremely dry humor and another parent who cannot vocalize real words because she is laughing too hard.
I am not sure if our insults are getting more ridiculous, or if we are becoming more insane. Honestly, it is probably some of both. No matter, the familial banter taught me how to laugh at myself.
The kitchen table taught me what love is. I learned how it looks, feels, sounds, smells and tastes. Love is family and friends laughing at each other until we cry. Love is my grandma’s homemade banana bread. Love is looking around a table while everyone else is talking, feeling blessed just to witness it. Love is the smell of pancakes at midnight. Love is sharing a meal.
In her book “Kitchen Table Sustainability,” Wendy Sarkissian said that not everyone has the same kitchen-table experiences.
“The kitchen ‘table’ assumes many different forms in many different environments,” Sarkissian said. “Yet the ‘hearth’ that it represents is universal.”
If you have yet to experience this balance of mockery and love, I invite you to dinner at my house. We have plenty of banter to spare, as long as you do not mind the eight-hour drive to get there.
As someone who loves cooking, baking and simply food in general, my earliest and latest memories happened around all types of kitchen “tables.” In her poem, “Perhaps the World Ends Here,” author Joy Harjo depicts the kitchen table as the beginning and the end.
“The world begins at the kitchen table,” Harjo said. “No matter what, we must eat to live. … Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.”
the end, when the food is all gone, the conversations will remain.