Around here we love food. We like to plant it in the spring, watch it grow in the summer, preserve it in the fall and fuss over traditional holiday dishes in the winter. Like most families, our fondest memories are accompanied by the meals we enjoy together. Our favorite dishes are handed down from generation to generation and beckon us together around the table like nothing else does. We look forward to the times when we brush elbows and simultaneously fill our hearts with gratitude and our stomachs with love. Around here we love food yes, and we end up showing love by preparing, serving and gathering around it.I’m convinced that love is shown through food by the way my Mama carefully wraps her home made honey bread in checkered tea towels to keep in it’s warmth before serving it to a crowd. Or by the way my mother in law cools her homemade soups with little puffs of breath before outstretching her loving hand and wooden spoon to eager taste testers. Or in the way the extended family crowds around the last piece of Grandma’s cherry pie, disputing over who got the last piece of pie the last time. Or when my sweetest childhood memories somehow accompany savory bowls of Gram -gram’s hot stew and steaming bubbling dumplings.
For as long as I can remember I’ve undoubtedly tasted the affection that is put into food and for just as long I’ve wondered how it got in there. Preparing food in turn has been a life long fascinating task. It started when I was a little girl perched on the stool beside my Mama as I watched how she mixed-and-stirred-mixed-and-stirred at the tiny kitchen counter where she prepped meals for our family of eight. It was amazing to me that a pinch of this and a bit of that could somehow turn into something edible, delicious even, and treasured enough to jot down, tuck away in a little recipe box, and then made again and again. A pantry full of seemingly magical ingredients meant possibility and change and proved that often life becomes better when things come together.Food means love around here and a family crowded around a table is where all the most treasured interactions in our home take place. Our dining space is the area in our home where we are able to be together, side by side, sometimes loud and rowdy and sometimes quieted, all the time indulging in unison into those precious recipe box favorites. It might just look like a table to some, but this space in where memories are made. With busy work and life schedules our little family aims to have as many meals as possible together. This doesn’t always happen easily, but we try anyhow. Little bodies and hearts need to be sustained and nurtured and I truly believe that that happens easily when we sit side by side eating a meal as a family.
When we recently moved to the outskirt of town to this fixer upper of ours, I imagined mixing and stirring and cooking side by side with my own babies much like my Mama had done with me. I pictured cramming around the dinner table, digging into the dishes we had made together, finally feeling like we had made this fixer upper a home to treasure. With the addition of a beautiful new dining set, we finally have a space in our home where childhood stories and second helpings are handed out. It is the place that hungry children run to with anticipation and the place where adults, filled to the brim with home cooked meals, push away from, with happy satisfied sighs.
This space fits our little family perfectly now and I imagine it will grow beautifully with us too. When our babies remember the happy times of their childhood, I’m sure they will recall gathering here, around this table, sprawled out in these chairs, digging into their favorite dishes.
I hope when they think of home they remember being filled up in every way. This room will see meals yes, but it will also be the place where our day’s events are accompanied with needed tears or appreciated cheers. The space where plates of homemade cookies are accompanied by sprawled homework and tapped calculators. The place where school books and hard working laptops are opened and closed and where art projects are spread freely. This space and these surfaces are where paint colors will be mixed and ultimately where childhood plans and dreams are drawn out.
Inevitably this room will hold the memories where backyard harvests are celebrated seasonally. Where tried and true classic recipes are proudly served and where our burnt concoctions are hesitantly presented. The space, unavoidably, where take out pizzas will be welcomed.To many this space of ours may look like any other room, with a piece of furniture at it’s center. On the contrary though, this is a room where family gathers at it’s center.
Around here, care gets cooked in to food and love proudly lives around tables.
What’s your family’s favorite addition to a holiday meal? You know the one. The one every one asks for and the one people take second and third helpings of. The one that makes you want to take a cat nap after indulging in it’s goodness. I would love to know what types of dishes are uniquely special to your dining table and what brings your family together.