These days the kitchen is the center of the home but at the holidays our dining room tables take center stage. It's where we all gather with family and friends to celebrate and share our love. Growing up in Virginia my grandmother was always with us for the holidays, and once the meal was cleared away, my mother set up a spread of homemade cookies and treats so our friends could visit to eat and drink.
As I got older and moved into my first place, my table got smaller as my family was spread across several states. Like a lot of us, I participated in a few "orphan" Thanksgivings for those of us too far away to make it back to our parent's house. We’d gather with friends around tables cobbled together with mismatched plates and reminisce and laugh and maybe shed a tear or two for our memories of long ago.
As I settled down with a career and a life partner, I started hosting our own family holiday dinners. Our tables got a little larger as we fit in children and siblings and parents and we joined hands to give thanks before enjoying our meals. As the years progressed my ex and I would set up multiple tables at Thanksgiving to host as many as 35 from our extended families.
This year's Christmas dinner was with my immediate family, seated around my parents' second-hand farm table in their homey kitchen. My father's voice choked as he gave a blessing that we were there together sharing a meal, and I squeezed his hand a little tighter at that moment.
We change our dining tables and other furniture over the years as our situations changes, whether we're moving to a larger house to accommodate a growing family or we're downsizing as our children move on. Our holiday celebrations change along with our changing living arrangements, but the dining room table is still the place we gather with family and friends to share, to laugh, to love and to give thanks.
I hope the time you spent with family and friends around your dining room table this holiday season was a wonderful time filled with love and hope.