When I was a little girl, my favorite room in the house was the dining room. Not only was this the focal point of our family’s home, but it contained something very, very special – the dining table.
This morning while I was dusting (a job I don’t do nearly often enough!) the same table that sat in my childhood home, memories came flooding into my consciousness. I love the old table, even though it is a bear to dust and polish, and I am so happy that it now sits in my little home.
After I crawled underneath the table so that I could get to the legs and the underneath sides of the drop leaves, two distinct memories came to mind.
Curled up in a near-fetal position underneath the table so that I could reach all of the dusty places, I realized why this was one of my childhood chores. I’m sure my mother didn’t want to crawl underneath the table with her dust cloth and can of furniture polish, so she sent me to do the task. I’m not too sure how thorough of a job I did then, and I’m definitely not sure how well I cleaned it today. All I know is that as I polished, I felt connected to my family who sat at the table for every meal, and to my history as I remembered myself as a little girl.
But then, another memory bubbled to the surface. Not only was the table the gathering place for our family meals and the surface my mother used for cutting out the fabric patterns for the dresses and other clothing she made for me and my sister, but it was also my secret hiding place. On rainy or cold days, it became my blanket fort. Mama would drop the leaves – they were always extended for our family meals- and cover the table with two blankets. It took that many to cover it completely – those were the days before queen size or king size linens. I would then carry pillows to make a nest under the table for myself, a flashlight, and a coloring book and crayons. As I got older, a pad of plain paper took the place of the coloring books, and I would write stories while hiding in my special place. As I write this memory today, while looking at the table, I see that there wasn’t a lot of room under there, but it was just about perfect for a little girl with a gigantic imagination.
I think that the next time I am blue or feeling sad, I might just cover my table with a huge blanket or bedspread, grab a pillow or two, and retreat to this very special place.