Not long ago, I daydreamed almost daily about having a better dining space than my modest kitchen table. With even four people, it’s a tight squeeze – and its not-so-elegant view features the humming fridge, the well-worn stove, and an oft overflowing sink. Despite my good fortune to live in this pleasant house, I couldn’t help imagining larger dinner parties in a prettier setting, hosting more loved ones, and spreading out in more style.
The day we were sent home in March, I left my office with a mountain of computer equipment and all the ergonomic accessories. I plopped down my workspace at this table without question, trying to balance the shock of sudden change with gratitude for my job and health. And as we all know well, the weeks went on.
Soon the insight surfaced that my kitchen had long been my creative place, my after-work play space. But now my office supplies towered from its corner: an incessant reminder of spreadsheets and salary scales, evenings and weekends included. A familiar feeling to many, these blurred boundaries were starting to get to me — even when I draped the evidence in fabric.
Privileged to be able to work from home (let alone to have a job), I felt rather extravagant when I recently got a small rolling desk that would fit alongside my table without taking it over. No longer would I need to balance my mouse on a cake stand and my keyboard on a cookbook!
And not unlike the candle-lighting rituals I once hosted right here, my new nightly ceremony of rolling my desk away has brought something wondrous to light: my kitchen table is actually a beloved place. Smoothing the cottony wrinkles of a fresh tablecloth with my hands, I am overcome with thankfulness to have this sacred space back.
In line with the message we seem to keep getting these months – Take nothing for granted! – I cherish my memories at this very setting: minute but marvelous indoor meals and crafts with friends, impromptu visits with my dad, my young nephew devouring a ripe nectarine directly from the fruit bowl, juice running down his chin.
And while I admit I yearn for visits with my loved ones today, I’m simply thrilled to have begun again sharing coffee here with my husband, piling the fruit bowl with the season’s harvest, and serving and photographing my desserts on this sweet little sunlit stage.
Looking back further, I remember, too, that the majority of my childhood at my Grandma’s treasured house was spent at her own kitchen table, despite the fancy dining room just footsteps away. Quite young, my sister and I even secretly tape-recorded dinner conversations underneath that table: a juvenile joke that captured a dose of quotidian magic. (You bet I still have those tapes.)
Maybe one day I’ll fondly remember doing office work at my kitchen table. For now I am relishing it being exactly what it is and has been: a compact but inviting place to pause peacefully, a favorite corner in the lovely home that hosts my lucky life.
I know I’m not the only one. What are your favorite moments at the kitchen tables in your life? Please ponder, and perhaps even share below.