OWP editor Hilary Berg (right) with her twin sister, Jessica McHughes, at the  kitchen table of their youth.

If Tables Could Talk

More seats at the table = deeper conversations

By Hilary Berg

Over the years, many memories were created at my family’s faux-wood laminate table. Supper — that’s dinner to some of you — happened almost every evening. No T.V. No music. Just famished children, exhausted parents, finished plates — except when liver and onions comprised the menu — and lots of love.

This table also bore witness to great joy throughout the year, with pumpkin carving, birthday parties, Christmas cookie rolling, cutting and frosting, and even proof of the Easter bunny — my mom would sprinkle flour on the surface and, using three fingers, place rabbit tracks down the middle. 

Of course, time at the table was not always pleasant. Homework happened there, a lot, as well as paying bills and frank family discussions.

Through the years, our table played its role as the center of our home. My niece inherited the storied “heirloom,” which her small family has now blessed with their own busy lives and celebrations, too.

I am not alone in my sentimentality for the dinner table. A couple years ago, I stopped by a B&B estate sale and immediately eyed a beautiful table with four leaves — truly exciting for any adult. The nostalgic owner slowly brushed her hand across the surface as she revealed this was her family table for years before bringing it to the inn. I believe she sold it to me realizing I understood the emotion behind it all.

Funny thing is, that table is now a fixture of the winery — and many joyous club member events — instead of our dining room because my husband can’t part with the much smaller, one-leaf table from his parents and his own high school years.

Just as important as the tables themselves are the seats around them, who fills them and the ability to add more as needed. Yes, some people may have to sit awkwardly at corners when space becomes cramped, but it never seems to matter because everyone has a seat at the table. And the conversations — the memories — that follow are what mean the most. 

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