To prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving column I revisited the columns of gratitude of the past few years, an effort that yielded precisely … nothing. Last year was all pandemic gratitude blah blah blah, 2020 was not even in my files (although I’m sure I wrote one), and 2019 was pre-pandemic naivete.
With those flimsy launchpads, I set myself to thinking about the things I feel so absolutely grateful to have in my life: two teenage girls and a husband who seem to tolerate me most of the time, siblings and parents relatively close by, college classmates who remember who I was back when we all had so much potential and colleagues who believe I might still have it in me. Friends from all eras — bell bottoms, pantsuits, big hair, polypropylene, maternity waistbands, mom jeans — the people who have buoyed me throughout each phase of life.
Glancing around the room, my eyes landed on our kitchen table, which once belonged to Winthrop resident Dave Chantler. Dave very recently passed away and you will read more about him in a future newspaper article, but in early 2018 Dave moved from his home in Pine Forest to his room at Jamie’s Place and we acquired his table.
The table was a game-changer for us. We’d previously been using a long rectangular table that was far too big for our small space, with heavy leaves that we didn’t really have storage space for. When it was just the four of us at dinner, the seating arrangement was awkward in any configuration. When there were more people, those seated at opposite corners had no chance of interacting with each other. It was hard to play board games at it.
Dave’s small circular table was — and is — just perfect for us. It fits the tight space well, expands to accommodate 10 when needed, with clever integral leaves that fold under the table when not in use. When just four — or now three — of us are home for dinner the seating feels intimate and cozy. And it’s the perfect size for board games or puzzles.
The table makes me aware of another thing I’m grateful for: the opportunity to speak and to listen. There’s space at this table for everyone, and because it’s round — or oval when expanded — every person at it can see everyone else. It makes hearing one another easy, and even when people talk over each other, it’s not hard to reign things back in to one conversation. It is, for me, one more reminder of the value of having a seat at the table.