The Big Table
In our thirties, we had the opportunity to buy a bigger home. A house came on the market that was listed “as is”, a fixer-upper. The appliances didn’t work, there were mice, the previous owner was a heavy smoker and there were three layers of wallpaper on the walls and some kind of dark, plastic coating on the windows. We felt that perhaps we were up for the challenge and so we bought in. A bigger house, bigger mortgage, bigger yard, bigger renovations and . . . a bigger dog.
Three years later, we concluded that we were not actually that kind of family. The bigness of everything required so much time and energy and money and it put pressure on us. We didn’t like that. I continued to have health issues and most of the work fell to my husband. It just wasn’t the right fit. But it also revealed that who we were trying to be didn’t match the reality of who we actually were.
So we moved to a smaller house, a smaller mortgage, smaller yard, small and patient renovations and . . . a smaller dog. It’s been 11 years and our oldest son just moved out last month . . . it’s been a great place to live!
Recently, the thought of a ‘big table’ has been on my mind. I thought, “If we had a big table, then maybe we’d invite people over more often”. Tonight, I mentioned this and my son gently reminded me that we had a big table, which we cut down to half the size and then recently got rid of, replacing it with this even smaller table which now seats four. He reminded me that we rarely sit at this table together and that when we do have people over, most people gravitate toward the couch anyways.
I wonder why I’m tempted by the bigger things.
If I’m honest (which is what writing helps me be), I would admit that I love conversations with good friends and family but not necessarily over a dinner that I cooked. I’d rather go out to eat, or snack together with whatever we found in our fridge or cupboards in the moment. I’m happy when people drop in unexpectedly and happy to make coffee and sit for hours on the couches hearing stories and asking questions of their lives. I’m happy to visit people in their homes, bring food, help make food and pitch in. But somehow I’ve become distracted by this idea of a ‘big table’ as the thing that would help me be hospitable.
Nope . . . I don’t think so.
I think it’s about love. It’s loving whomever comes into our home. I think it’s about taking a nap if I need to, or being thankful to my husband and son who are great cooks and love to create delicious meals in the kitchen. It’s about contributing to nutrition and keeping the supplies stocked as much as possible but not necessarily doing it all myself. And it’s about letting home be home for whomever is here.
This ‘big table’ idea is perhaps just a symbol of the person I wish I could be.
David wrote in Psalm 16, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
Perhaps it’s time to put away my search for the ‘big table’ and relax at this little one. Perhaps the simplicity of our home and our lives is more of a gift to me than I realize and if I stay within the boundary lines, as David puts it, it is pleasant. I like that.