Reflections of the Dining Room Table at My Grandparent’s House by Chellyz View
I was scrolling through the gallery in my cellphone and the picture featured above held my attention. A table. Not just an ordinary table, but a decorated table that reminded me of one of my maternal grandmother’s tablecloths. Some childhood memories are clear like looking through a freshly wiped window cleaned with window cleaner. I accurately see the reflection of dinner time at my grandparent’s home.
My grandparents resided in a small modest home with a round dinner table. Dinner at my grandparent’s house was a ritual. The main course of the day was done by 4:00 p.m. My grandmother enjoyed working for a brief time, but life circumstances summoned her to become a stay home mom. I admired my grandma for watching over me while my mom worked. I am displeased with myself because I didn’t pay attention to her nor my paternal grandmother’s recipes made from scratch. I felt cooking wasn’t my calling. Therefore, cereal and grilled cheese sandwiches became my specialty as I grew older, but that’s another story.
Yes, the dinner table at my grandparent’s house was sacred. Hands washed. Fresh produce. Homemade Ingredients. Life was at a slower pace back in the day. At least that is how I envision grandma’s kitchen. I can recall the aroma of greens, black eyed peas, the snapping of peas or green beans, and sweet potato pies (no strings found). Watching flour and yeast being rolled by hand with a wooden rolling pin then left to rise a few times before being baked in the oven left me amazed. The scent of roast beef or a whole chicken that appeared to be roasted without the rotisserie machine contraption lingered in the air. This was a time before anyone thought or knew the definition or lifestyle of veganism or gluten free.
The most important part of the dinner routine was setting the table. My grandpa would become irritated at times because I would start singing at the table. I didn’t sing on key, but I always had a song. I don’t know if this was a habit because the food was so good or I just felt like hearing him telling me to stop all that sangin’. I knew we were to sit down at the table together. No eating in the room. No preparing separate meals. Whatever was cooked you ate or you starved. Currently, I don’t know if that would be considered unfair treatment to children or not. Paper plates, and plastic ware was not allowed at the dinner table. Cups made of foam, oh no! My grandma said she felt like she was about to choke when she drank out of a foam cup. When she did finally break down and accepted paper or plastic goods at her dinner table, you were only to purchase Chinet or some other brand that resembled resilience.
Today, I feel guilty as a mother. Don’t get me wrong, my children don’t starve. However, they didn’t experience the same dinner time rituals I did as a child. I am thankful their dad has mad skills in the kitchen. So, they always get excited when dad prepares the meals. We don’t always consume our dinner at the same time due to work schedules or extracurricular activities. I am known for stocking up on paper and plastic goods because it’s an “easy” way of life in my home, but I know it isn’t good for the environment. There are times when we have carry-out meals a little too often or the frozen section in the market conveniently saves time instead of having everything freshly prepared. Electronics such as tablets and phones are supposed to be banned at the table when we have an opportunity to dine together. The children ask, “Why?” I respond, “Cause my grandpa said no singing at the table.” Also, I tell them it’s important because it gives us a chance to talk about life.
A few years ago, before I realized the impact dementia was having on my grandmother we got into an argument. It was about the details of the dining room table. I wasn’t folding the dinner napkins correctly. Grandma exploded and I left the room muttering, “I ain’t having another holiday dinner over here.” I think she felt it would be one of her last holidays preparing a home cooked meal at the sacred dinner table. A sadness overwhelmed me because I knew grandma was changing and this portion of our lives wouldn’t be the same. Now, she enjoys the meals my mom and aunt prepare for her. She always sit by the window in her comfy chair. Her dinner table consists of a small foldable wooden dinner tray. Of course, she asks what time it is throughout the day, because she never wants to eat dinner after 5:00 p.m.
As families we need to find time to gather more at the table. Even if time doesn’t allow for it to occur every day, we should commit to making the time at least three to four times a week. It might not even be dinner, but maybe you could enjoy preparing an evening snack or dessert together. Have at least one “good tablecloth” and a set of nice dinnerware you can find on sale. Maybe even splurge on the fancy paper ware but remember to recycle. LOL, I even invite singing to the dinner table as long it is a song, we can all sing and is appropriate. Yes, our schedules can be rigorous at times. Yes, we often find ourselves overworked and trying to manage the bills. However, try to find a few moments to create some reflective and comforting memories at the dinner table .