Kitchens were a place of gathering when I was growing up. Small dining tables were in Granny’s and Grandma’s kitchens, as well as our own most of the time. The houses we lived in where the table wasn’t in the kitchen it was right outside the kitchen. Birthday candles were blown out at those tables. Coloring projects were done at the table. Dinner was eaten together at the table.
I spent many hours sitting at the tables in Granny and Grandma’s kitchens just talking to them while they cooked. I eventually began cooking with Granny as I got older. Granny and me used to play chess and other games at the table. At Auntie Boogie’s house we’ll just sit around the table doing individual things like reading while snacking. Oh yes, there is wine involved at Auntie’s table. Depending on the occasion, it might be just a glass. Other occasions its several glasses.
My own kitchens in apartments shared with Chaz have progressively become bigger. A far cry from my days living in a studio apartment alone in which I had no “kitchen.” My desk doubled as my cooking/prep area. I had a hot plate with two burners. I fixed many a healthy meal on that thing. I even fixed spaghetti and garlic bread on it for 21 friends from church one night after service. I still wonder how we fit all of us in that tiny studio. One day, I want a huge kitchen complete with island that can be used for food prep as well as sitting around and just chatting. I can dream, right?
A kitchen of sorts is set up outside for big family parties on my dad’s side of the family. All the cooking happens out back while all the eating is usually done up in the carports and front lawns on big folding tables. Sometimes people eat inside. Usually the kids watching a movie or if there is a game on and a TV wasn’t moved outdoors.
We gather around the tables for games or to just talk story. “Eh, remember when….?” Usually in there somewhere is Uncle R shouting, “I did NOT set the Ragasa fiyah! Was G!” The same stories are told at each gathering. But, they are so few and far between that it’s like we’re hearing it again for the first time. “Eh, remember when we used to sneak out the house for G’s gigs at da Sheraton? We used to make Debi run across da dance floor to tell him our requests.” Lots of laughter. Lots of fun. Lots of memories. Lots of smiles.
Admittedly, we don’t use our dining room table much at home. Right now it’s a cluttered mess. It usually stays a cluttered mess until I know we have company coming. Then the table it used. Chaz always says, “What’s this?” when he sees the table set for meals. “It’s our dining room table.” *rolling eyes at Chaz*
The hearth was the center of homes way back when. Now that we have kitchens, they are and should be the center of our homes. I look forward to my kitchen/dining room being the center of the home when we have our own family.