From Pipi’s Pasture: The dining room table
Thanksgiving is less than a month away. Before we know it we’ll be sitting around the dining room table enjoying the turkey or ham and all the trimmings while we exchange conversation with friends and family. So this week I’ve been thinking about the dining room table.
Just think how many times we sit around the table to eat our family meals! For example, if the table is used three times a day for 30 days for 12 months… well, you get the idea. If the table is used for 20 years, the number of meals served there is pretty incredible. Just think about an antique table that has been in a family for generations.
When I was growing up on the ranch, three meals a day were eaten as a family at the dining room table. The only time that I can remember that we kids didn’t eat there was when we had company and there wasn’t room. Then we ate in the kitchen.
It wasn’t unusual for other people to eat meals with us, especially at noon. Nobody was ever turned away at mealtime. In fact, since Mom was known for her cooking talents, I think some of the men (perhaps the game warden who was making his rounds or the owner of a dozer who was checking out a job or a neighbor) planned to stop by the house right at noon. Mom usually fretted about the meal, but there was always plenty of food and a basement full of canned foods that could be quickly added.
During the summer, when Dad hired men to help with the haying or when there were special jobs to get done — such as branding — Mom had quite a few to feed. Then the table was loaded with platters of fried chicken, a big bowl of mashed potatoes, gravy, cottage cheese made with cow’s cream, hot rolls made that morning, salads, vegetables and delicious cakes and pies.
Mom sat at the table, and we kids ate in the kitchen and listened to the conversations going on at the table which was about most anything and lots of kidding, too, since the crew usually included young men. These younger men, incidentally, had yet to learn that it wasn’t a good idea to gorge themselves with food at the noon meal and often went back to the hay field so full that they couldn’t stack hay!
Conversation was one of the favorite parts of our family meals, too. We all got to share what we had done that day. Sometimes we talked about interesting things we had seen, like Canadian geese flying over in early spring. Other times Dad and Mom told us stories about our family history, and we learned about what was going on in the world. There were so many things to be learned and shared.
When we were growing up, there were no cell phones or video games or even television, but if there had been we wouldn’t have been allowed to use them during mealtime. We listened to programs on the radio but only after supper was finished.
Family mealtime at the dining room table is a nurturing time all the way around.
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