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We built our first new home in 1968 at Milford Lake in Kansas.  Some new pieces of furniture were needed and a dining table was the first order of business.  We entertained a lot and wanted a table and chairs big enough to do the job and sturdy enough to last.  We had no idea “sturdy enough to last” would mean until the end.  We bought a maple Tell City set, which was a big deal at the time.

When I started to write this I decided to do a quick check on the company and found a fun bit of trivia.  Jacqueline Kennedy saw some of their chairs at Saks Fifth Avenue in NY City, liked them, and ordered 425 for the ballroom at the White House. Hers were fancy, so different from our Early American-style maple

Dinner time was family time at our house and that included actually talking to one another. No TV was watched and if cell phones and such had been available back then they would have been banned during dinner.   Stats show that children generally do better in school, have less depression, less drug dependency, and fewer behavioral problems when the family eats together.  A common quote today is, “The family that eats together, thrives together.”

Our dining table is a testament to our lives. It is privy to all conversation, special activities, candlelight dinners, kid’s homework, and card games that were played there – all recorded in its consciousness.   Many funny stories were told, some believable, some not, but all were met with enjoyment and laughter.  Bob remembers when he used to play cards around a table with his grandpa while growing up – Grandpa always cheated.  Everyone knew and just laughed at him.

We’ve often wished we had kept track of the number of dinner guests we’ve had the honor of breaking bread with over the years, but it didn’t occur to us.  We always just set another place as needed.  The one family member that was taken from us at the age of twenty enjoyed many meals with his family during his short stay on earth.  His empty chair was one of life’s hardest blows to deal with.  His absence is still felt keenly at times.

A few mishaps occurred along the way but I (conveniently)  don’t remember much about them.  I do recall one that turned out well.  We had a bazillion people coming for dinner and tables added together that seemed to reach a mile.  At the last minute, I discovered my special gelatin salad hadn’t set up completely.  I quickly hurried to my neighborhood store and bought several cartons of vanilla ice cream.  I used the gelatin for topping and as everyone raved about how tasty the topping was, I just thanked them, smiled, and confessed to nothing.  Not earthshaking ingenuity, just a fun memory.

Lots of furniture has passed through our life but nothing matches the longevity and specialness of our dining set.  Such wonderful memories, mostly heartwarming, some bittersweet, were centered around it – the heart of our home. It’s much harder to manage dinnertime as we remember it in today’s world, but even once a week of the whole family eating together is nice.

Life changes.  Children grow up and chart their own course.  Friends move away and scatter to the wind.  We moved many times ourselves.

We seldom entertain anymore.  Don’t cook or eat much either.  But my sweet husband of 64 years, seven months, one week, and three days, still shares dinner with me at one end of that table in the evening.  The sun is setting on this old couple, but if we listen carefully we can still hear the laughter of a loving, caring family and feel the golden aura that caressed our hearts and souls. Truly some of life’s greatest moments.


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