As we get ready for gatherings and dinners, I think back to mealtime at the ranch where I grew up. The kitchen was a bright cozy room, dominated by the wood/coal cook stove. It was the only room in the house with painted walls. Sometimes the wall behind the stove was a sunny yellow, but more often a light olive green. Separating the kitchen from what we would today call the great room, were upper cabinets with glass doors on the dining room side, and solid doors on the kitchen side. All our dishes and glasses were stacked there. There was a pass through with sliding doors and lower cabinets with openings on the kitchen side.
The table in the dining room side was a long plank table, sanded smooth and varnished. It easily sat eight. The table was surrounded by mismatched wooden chairs, some given to us by neighbors, others salvaged from old houses, but each one painstakingly sanded and refinished. Every meal the table was set with dishes and silverware--fork to the left of the plate, then the knife and spoon to the right. At breakfast there was always a mug for Mom and Daddy's coffee, and a cup and saucer at night for tea. A napkin was placed under the fork.
When the table was set, Mom would place the food on the pass through and we would place it on the table. After everyone had washed their hands, we all sat down, and after a prayer, enjoyed our meal together. The talk would be about what was going on in our world. All of us joined in this conversation. In the evening, there was a dessert, with a little more talking, then the table was cleared and dishes washed and dried. Life centered around the table. It was where we voiced our dreams, discussed our problems, and expanded our thinking. We came together as a family and for just a time shut out the distractions of the outside world.