Now and then Patricia and I go into IKEA to buy meatballs. There is a direct route from the entrance to the meatballs (which are, in fact, next to the exit), but that takes all the sport out of it, so we obediently follow the yellow arrows through the store, passing all manner of home furnishings, most of which are designed for persons younger than us. But I have a rebellious streak, and I have been known to have the absurd, revolutionary idea of buying a new kitchen table. Such thinking needs to be squashed mercilessly.
Our kitchen table has not been with us for fifty years. Not quite. But Richard Nixon was in his first term when we got it. A white top and a varnished yellow wooden frame. Four ladder back yellow chairs with woven straw seats. Seemed just perfect at the time. There were only three of us, and one was in a high chair. We figured it would do for a while.
And it has. There was a mild crisis when the three grew into five and people outnumbered chairs, but we came up with a white ladder back chair with a woven straw seat, and that has done the job. After a few years the five went back to four and then to three and then, for a short time, up to six. These days it is normally three, but has been known to swell to eight. There’s another white ladder back chair and a youth chair which the youngest member of the clan is still willing to sit in. A stool is occasionally involved.
The kitchen table has traveled with us from state to state, from house to house. From time to time one of the chairs has had a structural problem, but nothing the family handy-person (which is not me) can’t handle.
I am not a good enough mathematician to calculate the number of meals that have been eaten at that table. Or the conversations, ranging from delirious to tear-filled. Or the number of Christmas cookies decorated thereon, or the number of crossword puzzles solved, or the number of sermons written there, or the number of card games played, pictures drawn and colored or painted. Napkins and placemats and candles have come and gone, but the table has stayed, and I believe it will for a few more years.
That kitchen table, you see, is life. It is us. Home just wouldn’t be the same without it. All I need from IKEA is meatballs. And maybe some lingonberries to go with them. To eat at the kitchen table. THE kitchen table.
Steve McKinley is a retired pastor, doting grandfather, occasional author. Wants to be a poet when he grows up.