The last dining room table we had was 100 years old. Over the years the extra leaves were lost and to top finally glued together. All but 4 of the chairs had disappeared along the way as well. So many meals were share at that table over the last century, countless stories told, some filled with roaring laughter and others tears. That is the beauty of a table and a meal. Our table sat 4 comfortably, there were times that we had at least double that squished around there. A rouge elbow may have ended up in someone’s mashed potatoes every now and then, but we were together.
It never mattered who showed up at the door, hungry or not a place was set and they ate.
Two years ago I received a chop saw for my birthday, with it I proceeded to build a book shelf in the living room. I admit it wasn’t the smartest place for a construction project but it turned out nice. Kind of a crate/pallet style shelf you could say. After that I was on a roll.
It was time for a new dining room table. I had always envisioned a long farmhouse style table with benches (it’s easier to squeeze more people at the table on a bench than with chairs). I searched online for plans that were simple enough for my amazing carpentry skills. I found the perfect ones and it was complete an extension on each end in case extra space is needed. I measured the floor and “Yep, it will fit perfect”.
I showed the plans to my husband and he reluctantly said “ok”. As he looked over the plans and questioned whether or not it would fit, I brought him the tape measure and told him he could check but I’m pretty sure it will fit.
“I think we should shorten these plans, by about 2 feet and we can think about the extensions when the time comes. I will give you a hand with this.”
Knowing how my impressive carpentry skills are I decided to follow his advice. The next day he left me the truck and to the lumber yard I went. Picked up all the wood for the project.
When Mike got home he checked over my purchase and gave it a rather… um… disapproving and funny look.
“You bought stud grade lumber. Some of this has holes and deep knots. This one even has a slight twist.”
“Nothing.” as he shook his head and sighed.
We started cutting pieces and screwing them together. Each piece he let me inspect to see which had “prettier” knots and which end they should go on. Slowly we got the table and benches assembled.
I sanded off the “stud grade” stamps and smoothed out the rough spots. On two sides I burned “Give us this day our daily bread”. A simple reminder that today we only need enough for today. Tomorrow we can again ask for enough to get us through the day. I should have put a “fishes and loaves” inscription on there. The amount of times I have prayed for one of those miracles is… well… plenty.
Let me explain. There is a story in the bible where Jesus feeds a thousand people with a few fish and a couple loaves of bread. I would think they had to be small whales and huge loaves of bread but the little sketches only show tiny little fish. So now when we keep adding a place at the table and I’m not sure if we will have enough to fill everyone I ask for a “fishes and loaves” miracle. Every time, everyone goes away full.
The table was stained, sealed and moved into the dining room. Good thing we went with Mike’s measurements rather than mine. It fit perfect, any bigger and we would have been sitting in the living room too.
When we bought the farm, we were worried that the table wouldn’t fit in the dining room again. There was talk of taking it apart and shortening it. Considering I had planned to make it two feet longer and with extensions I wasn’t too fond of the shortening idea. But I would rather that, than the scrap the table all together. It was only a few months old. Again, it fit. It’s a little tighter fit than the last house; any longer and one end would be eating in the bathroom and the other in the living room.
“Can I get the mashed potatoes down here?”
“What do you need toilet paper for?”
“Mashed Potatoes not chicken!”
“Will tissue work?”
So the room isn’t that big but you can see the problems that could occur.
It doesn’t seem to matter what size table we have, it always gets filled. There is somehow always enough food to go around and enough people to squish onto the benches and leave me searching for more chairs. I find great joy in setting a meal of any sort on the table surrounded by friends and family. Some nights the stories start flowing and laughter rolling. Other nights it’s a smaller crowd with a quiet meal after an exhausting day of setting fence posts or baling hay. We have already had so many great memories sitting at the table and I know there are many more to come. It really is a wonderful blessing to have and share a spot at the table.