I’m not an overly sentimental person. My family describes me as a purger and if something doesn’t serve a purpose or have a designated place it is swiftly and efficiently removed from the house—donated, pitched, passed along.
But there are odd items that seem to have a sentimental hold over me. Objects that anchor the family and act as a touchpoint. Our former kitchen table and chairs was one of these.
After it was gone I tried to find a picture of it, but I couldn’t locate one.
I could find lots of photographs that it appeared in, but none where it was the focus. This piece of furniture that three generations of families had gathered around. The chairs that were reglued, and reglued, and reglued. The sixth chair that was broken during a too-rowdy weekend. The chair that he draped a damp towel over the back of and its telling water marks. This table and chair set that bared nearly fifty years of stains and scars, each carrying with it its own story.
When I was growing up it was our eat-in kitchen table. The formal dining room set was reserved for things like Christmas and Easter, so this table was where we ate our family dinners most nights of the week.
Morning coffee and art projects. Macaroni and cheese and homework.
Place setting over the years ranged from paper plates, to my mom’s everyday Poppies on Blue pattern, to my grandmother’s china.
Candles blown out and prayers said. Weekday spaghetti dinners and grilled chicken on summer Sundays after church.
Just a piece of furniture? Or a constant? Something we could return to. Something that is there for us to gather around to celebrate the good and try to make sense of the bad.
It traveled with Levi and I from Columbus, Ohio, to St. Louis, Missouri, to Brentwood, Missouri, to Springfield, Illinois, to Aberdeen, South Dakota, and back to Ohio again.
Finally, we didn’t believe the chairs could take anymore glue. They wobbled and creaked with a simple slide in and slide out.
We needed a new set. Something sturdy. Something that we can hopefully have around for another three generations.
“Give it to someone who needs it,” my grandma and mom both said.
I did not go with Levi on the farewell drop-off to our local Goodwill. Yes, it is just a piece of furniture. An inanimate object. But it was ours. My grandparents, my parents, and then mine and Levi’s. It is where decades of birthday parties and family meals occurred. Where bewildering math problems and seemingly unsolvable life problems both found solutions. It was just an object, but it was so much more. It was the foundation that nourished generations of life and living.
*a version of this post originally appeared on former site, These Paths.