Years ago, we acquired a kitchen table when our table for four would no longer accommodate our family of five. The previous owner gushed memories about Thanksgiving Dinner around this table, and how she had mixed feelings seeing it walk out her door. Her parting phrase was an encouraging one. She was happy to know it would go to a family who would continue to make memories around it. I wish I could tell her, we have.
Recently, my husband and I contemplated replacing it. Our children are six, eight, and eleven. We’re on the cusp of being able to have nice things; things that newborns won’t puke on, toddlers won’t poop on, and preschoolers won’t color on. Each table we looked at, didn’t feel quite right. It either wasn’t sturdy enough or too pricey for daily use. Some weren’t conducive to our lifestyle with hidden food traps and legs in the way. Finally, I said, “I really like our table, just not the color.”
We decided to give the table a facelift instead.
I found a gal on Facebook who refinishes old furniture and sent her a message. I dropped the table off on a Sunday and picked it up two weeks later, coincidentally, also on a Sunday. We put it in our space and fell in love. It was just how we wanted it. The colors worked great, the new chairs made it feel fresh, and the history behind it was still ours.
I know it’s the same table; where my kids have painted and eaten, though not at the same time. I broke out placemats and was more conscientious about sliding things across the table. I knew at some point it would get dinged or scratched, but I wanted it to stay pretty for at least a little while.
What is nice anyway?
Exactly one week later, again, on a Sunday, we had guests arrive. Family who had seen pictures of the newly improved table and wanted to gush over it in person. As we showed it off, my daughter started to tell a tale from ten minutes prior when I was not paying attention. It was a tale of our 17-year-old cat trying to eat the pretty, but fake, floral arrangement I had as a centerpiece. A non-fiction tale of how my daughter swooped in and picked up said geriatric cat to remove it from my beautifully refinished table. A disheartening tale of how said naughty cat flexed her claws in the process of being booted. At which point the pieces fell into place and I actually heard the tale my daughter was sharing with our guests and I saw the fresh claw marks expertly etched into the top of my newly, nice, table.
My husband shook his head. “Why can’t we have nice things?”
This kitchen table has been in our lives for over six years. We purchased it while living in Michigan, during a three-year stint that encompasses a multitude of memories and milestones that we hold dear. It survived my middle child, who at 22-months-old, sanded down the edges with her casts. It held my youngest as a toddler, who repeatedly danced on it while slurping pasta. It supported my oldest, as he learned to read and write, sitting at it. It has served thousands of family meals, countless gatherings with friends, and nothing short of a million milk spills. It has multitasked as our homework table, our art table, and our “dump it there” table. It has endured silverware pounding and hot plates, impatient children and burned meals, paint spills and sharpie doodles, and an immeasurable number of tears, both happy and sad.
And a geriatric cat who got busted tasting the fake flowers.
This table has supported us, served us, and endured us.
It has had blemishes the entire time we’ve owned it. All but for one week.
I really want to have nice things. I thought we were at the stage of life where we could have nice things. Instead, we have memories and children and really old cats. I guess I’m good with that, too.