My Kitchen Table
This is a guest article from Janice Hunter. Thanks and welcome Janice!
The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things
If you were here right now, we’d be sitting at my kitchen table.
I’d serve you golden tea in a white teacup encircled with a hand painted garland of spring flowers, a gift from my best friend in Greece. My teapot’s plump and jolly and glazed a deep, cobalt blue. It dribbles a bit, but I’d never part with it; my husband and I bought it decades ago, when we furnished our first home together, a rented flat in Portugal.
If you prefer coffee, I’d find you a cheerful mug, big enough to wrap your hands around. The sugar’s in a tiny little preserve pot, with a ceramic spoon sticking out of its lid. The milk jug is pastel striped, flat bottomed and makes skimmed milk from a carton taste like it came straight from a farm smelling of cut hay and warm animals. I’d put out some biscuits on a couple of mismatched floral plates, the survivors of a life with children.
It’s a pine table, warm and mellow, sturdy and strong; it’s served us well. Every scar, scratch and dent is a memory. We bought it with money left to me by an uncle who had no children, and thought he’d be happy with how we spent his legacy.
At Easter we deck it out with blue and white checked linen and jugs full of posies: bright daffodils, dusky blue hyacinths, rainbows of tulips and delicate scented freesias. It spends Easter Day laden with hand painted bowls of red-dyed boiled eggs, jugs of wine and brightly coloured plates of aromatic roasts, Greek salads and mezedhes.
On Christmas day we drape it in forest green and red damask, lay it with golden charger plates and festive crockery, green and red hand-blown glass goblets, and napkins gathered up in glistening red, green and gold napkin rings. We eat by candlelight: tea lights flickering in green and red glass votives and tall elegant gold candles skirted with holly garlands and bright berries. It’s the highlight of my table’s year; laden with festive crackers and a hearty feast, I feel it soaking in all the love and laughter like a sigh.
Our table echoes with the laughter of all the children who have played here, grown up with elbows leaning on it as they’ve placed jigsaw pieces, rolled dice or thrown triumphant aces onto a pile of cards.
Albums full of children have crayoned here, handing me pictures of ants and flowers, monsters and princesses. So many snapshots of poised pencils and tongues stuck out in concentration over homework sums and holiday stories. Teenagers sharing angst and gossip over pizza, covering the table with trays of curling tongs, makeup bags and bottles of nail varnish, giggling with sleepover hysteria at the least wee thing.
This is where family and friends gather, and daily meals are lingered over. Breakfast is sleepily shared and every evening we gather together to unwrap the details of days we’ve loved or are glad to see the back of. Tempers have flared, rules have been broken, tears shed and fists banged down in frustration as hormones rage in torrents. But our table is patient.
I’ve lain my arm around friends’ shoulders as they’ve cried here, hands covering their faces as they share the horror of unfolding pain. My table has supported me silently, when, legs swept from under me, I’ve longed to let myself fall into a chasm of despair, dropping the phone that’s brought death to the kitchen.
My table is the centre of my home, the strongest symbol of the life I’ve built and the love that holds us all together.
Here is where I’m grounded, centred like a thrown clay pot spinning in stillness and taking shape on a potter’s wheel. I start my days here, laugh and cry here.
Here’s where I nourish my family, and feed my soul, writing about the heart-captured moments of bliss and despair, anxiety and triumph that make a life.
Here’s where I feel like one of my hand painted jugs, unique and cherished, full to the brim and overflowing with the love and inspiration I long to share; sometimes I sit quietly, sad and empty, watching the birds at my kitchen window, praying for guidance, hoping I’ll hear the answers when they come.
Here’s where I’m most content to simply be. It’s my haven, no matter where my journey takes me.
Welcome to my kitchen table.
More about our guest author:
Janice Hunter is a certified homelife coach and writer. She provides soul food and support for coaches, writers, parents and homebased workers over at www.sharingthejourney.co.uk