Boys are growing into men here in our home, and knees are knocking together under our little kitchen table. Feet find their way onto feet, and elbows can't leave well enough alone, so we're moving. Not from our home, but out of our little kitchen nook and into the spacious dining room. The boys have been asking me to serve dinner at our long oak table, with the chandelier like a canopy of sparkle overhead. But I've balked these last few months, knowing it will add more work to my load. I balked and I crammed and I nagged my way through dinners, ordering, "Stop touching one another, and keep your legs under your chair."
Then last night we visited a friend's home, and sat down at their new dinner table. Brand-spankin', never before used, without one scrape or stain. Long planks of untreated wood set with burlap place-mats and mason jars for water glasses. Miniature pumpkins toppled from ceremic decorative urns as our centerpiece. How special to be there with our beloved friends, christening their table with our conversation and laughter. As my dear friend's husband jokingly threatened to never have guests over again if we splatter salad dressing, I thought of the generous love required when giving our best. But we do give our best away to those we prize. China and chocolates and the dining room table, to those we cherish, value and esteem.
And I looked at my children, who are my best, recognizing immediately the way I hold them at arm's length from the center of my hospitable heart. Not always, but when it requires greater effort on a day-in-day-out basis, I'm quick to say, "No, and keep your hands to yourself."
But today I'm doing something new - I'm spreading out our holiday favorites on the table cloth of my generous heart. I'm throwing a christening party on a Tuesday night! Not because we're hosting special guests, but because I'm purposing to start treating my most intimate family members like the guests of honor that they are. Prized in my heart, prized around my table. Sure there will be more sweeping up rice and polishing off handprints, but we do that for those we love. It's part of the gift giving.
Laying out placemats that smell of cedar and cloth napkins will require another load of wash and a hot iron in the morning, but I'm throwing this mid-week celebration, with homework for dessert, just because its time to invite my children to the grown up table. So I'm heading out to the garden now to gather the last glory-blooms of fall, every single stem, for tomorrow I'll be pruning rose bushes and hydrangeas all the way down. There's no temptation to skimp, when pruning is just around the bend. I'll give them all as a laid down offering on the dining room table, because I want to do the learning without the painful pruning in my own life.
It is time to treat my children as the most valued guests in our home
- guests that do the dishes, but guests just the same.
They are our little people for such a short time. And we are honored to have their little britches seated round our table for these limited number of years. And when we send them off, we want to send them off with memories of family dinners, chocolatey desserts, good conversation, and enough elbow room.
Join me at my party... though you'll be loving your family from your dining room table, as I do well loving my family from mine. But join me, won't you? Won't you? Though we grow weary from this continual feast... let's commit to party on!