Kitchen table was HQ for family

Columnist Claudette Sandecki on the importance of dinnertime and family

“Time to eat, kids. Clear the table,” Mom would say as she tested the boiling potatoes for doneness.

The kitchen table was where we gathered between meals like families in front of TV.

The table served as an all purpose piece of furniture – our gaming table, craft area, Mom’s kitchen counter, laundry room, whatever activity called for a flat surface.

Ample for our family of five kids, the homemade table came from a farm auction where it had been well broken in.

Standing on 3”x3” wooden legs permanently affixed, it was topped with glued on heavy duty linoleum in a green and yellow geometric pattern, edges bevelled until comfortable to bare arms. It had been constructed to handle any job that came its way. A variety did.

On that table Mom kneaded 12 loaves of bread each week; rolled crust and assembled pies; filled canning jars with fruits, and veggies for pickles; sawed up a quarter of pork for freezing in a town ten miles away; rubbed Habacure on slabs of side pork to make bacon; cleaned a dozen or so chickens at a time over-ready for sale to town folk; and stacked whites from darks during the laundering process on wash day.

On ironing day the wide end of the ironing board – a padded plank tapered at one end to slide into dresses or skirts – rested on the table, while the tapered end rested on the back of a kitchen chair.

Ironing was my job, one I took pride in and enjoyed despite roasting my hand over a sad iron or, in later years, pushing along a gasoline-heated version.

As babies, Mom bathed us in a galvanized wash tub set on the end of the table closest to the warm wood stove.

Once supper dishes were washed and put away the table became a hub in the excellent light from a gasoline-fuelled mantle lamp suspended from the ceiling.

That’s because electricity wasn’t available in our home until I had graduated from high school.

We did our homework or worked at some craft. Played cards or checkers, board games, and eventually Monopoly. Mom would read Emmie Oddie in The Western Producer.

We kids made birthday and greeting cards, along with strings of popcorn and cranberries to decorate the Christmas tree.

Each December Mom baked gingerbread in the shape of horses which we kids cut  out with Grandma’s 3” ivory handled penknife from the rolled out dough following a butter paper pattern.

We iced the baked horses with white vanilla, then drew on bridle and saddle dipping toothpicks in food colouring. These horses were hung on the tree (often a poplar branch; a spruce was out of the question until my latest teens).

They gathered dust and “ripened” for the two weeks of holidays and when removed from the tree, tasted extra spicey, by then so crisp they had to be dipped in milk or coffee.

Mom wrapped gifts for relatives, and both she and Dad wrote annual letters to distant family or addressed store-bought Christmas cards at the table after we had gone to bed.

Because the gas lamp was the only decent light in the house, one winter Dad even repaired a horse harness at the kitchen table.

And I recall him assembling a set of rein spreaders made of red, white, and blue plastic rings.

Mom knew where we were at all times, we learned to play nicely together, and if Mom needed a hand setting the table or popping the baby into the highchair, she didn’t have to text us. We were right there.

Claudette Sandecki now runs her household from her own kitchen table in her Thornhill, B.C. home.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Fire northeast of Terrace under control

The 12.1-hectare fire was first discovered Saturday morning near Cedarvale

Hazelton’s Vickers creates Grateful Dead album cover

“Unbelievable, inspiring, grounding, and very exciting,” Roy Henry Vickers says of experience

Crews fighting fire northeast of Terrace

The 10-hectare fire was discovered Saturday near the Cedarvale - Kitwanga backroad

Thornhill firefighters respond to fire at Terrace asphalt paving plant

Firefighters arrived on scene to discover an oil heater ablaze

VIDEO: Visual recap of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Arlo Guthrie among highlights

Trudeau’s youth council divided over Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

A letter signed by 16 past and present members was made public today, asking the federal government to reverse course

Hulk Hogan reinstated into wrestling Hall of Fame

Hogan had used racial slurs caught on video when talking about his daughter sleeping with a black man

‘Lava bomb’ through roof of tour boat injures 22 in Hawaii

“An explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers”

B.C. teen meets Nicolas Cage

Filming mob movie in downtown Vernon, B.C.

Critics claim Trump “defended a tyrant”

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

B.C. MLAs choose new children’s watchdog

Jennifer Charlesworth has worked in government, social services

B.C. reporter calls out immigration photo on social media as fake news

A Vancouver reporter is calling out a British politician for spreading fake news

Hundreds of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

Out of 1,773 glaciers, 1,353 shrank significantly between 2000 and 2016

Most Read