The Table

I don't remember a time when the dining room table wasn't there.

It is made of solid oak, standing firm on two solid legs, a bridge between them. The grain of the wood is cut in swooping curves inviting the hand into a caress flowing from top to bottom and down over the softly carved feet, like a small summer wave caught in wood. Paradise for a child, the source of endless expeditions into mystery lands, each leg the tallest trees in the jungle, the feet a ramp for small toy cars, the entire underside of the table a cave of safety and excitement.

A new generation discovers The Underside

One of my earliest memories is of playing under that table while my mother sewed clothes on the top. Or maybe it’s a compilation of many memories - when I was little, the sewing machine often stood on one end of the table, down by the window to our stamp-sized backyard with the small apple tree and my mother often sewed clothes for me, clothes for herself. The steady sound of the Singer sewing machine chugging away vibrated down through the table, an integral part of whatever adventure I was inventing below. Just as much a part of those memories is the interruptions of colourful language when the sewing didn't go quite as planned. Somehow, though, the end result was always chic.

Every day, we would eat at the table. In the dark of December mornings, an Advent candle before me counting down the days to Christmas and Christmas dinner itself which in my family is so much more than a meal.

At first, a little conscious of our dignity, but after 10 more minutes, we all look like this

My sister and I learned the debate game there, discussing anything and everything with mor and far, words flying and leaping and cartwheeling above the table, building worlds of ideas. We celebrated birthdays there, always with fresh flowers from the garden

I did my homework there, my mother paid the bills there, it is the first place new people in our home were invited to sit. We collected friends around the table for good dinners with good wine and conversations that lasted long into the night, until someone would finally suggest we move to the living room because the chairs aren't all that comfortable. Somehow, once we've moved, the conversation wasn't as good. There were fights around that table and so much laughing and so many tears, not just from laughing. There was Denmark, there was Canada, there was health and sickness and death and grieving and healing. And everything that happened around that table, everything that happened around that centre of my family, happened while we were sitting at it, touching it, imbued the table with collected magic over the years so that by now it is filled with everything we were, everything we have ever been. The table is magic, soaking up all of us, cleansing us and leaving only what has knit us all together - the original four of me, my sister, my mother and father and the extended family, not just the ones related by blood, but the ones we chose to become family, the ones who made us more than we were. Soaked into that table is love and laughter and us.

And now my mother is moving to a smaller place and although the table has been with us through many moves from town to town and country to country and last from house to apartment, there will be room no more for this table that was us, that collected not just our family within, but others as well for over a hundred years and now, it must go. And there is part of me that feels as if much of the magic within my family is tied to the magical object of our dining room table and it feels wrong, so very wrong to let it go. It feels as if I'm letting part of my family go. But needs must and there is nothing for it, so we have to say goodbye.

And I hope that it will find another family that it can knit together with love and laughter.