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AMY KIRK: The ranch style kitchen table

The kitchen table is a piece of furniture that serves the necessary purpose of providing a surface for mannerly eating. I wish I could say that happens at ours, but I've not been overly successful in achieving that with my family. It has successf...

Amy Kirk

The kitchen table is a piece of furniture that serves the necessary purpose of providing a surface for mannerly eating. I wish I could say that happens at ours, but I've not been overly successful in achieving that with my family. It has successfully served us in numerous other ways it wasn't intended for, though.

Like everything else on our ranch, the kitchen table is multi-purpose. Our table is not a family heirloom or very old for that matter. I wouldn't even call it high-quality furniture, but it has become the centerpiece of our family life, food goo, my kids' snack crumbs and unclaimed junk mail.

I've never been overly fond of our table because its design is impractical for ranch living, but it came with the house. My father-in-law didn't want to move it when we swapped houses with him 14 years ago. The table's big fancy base can't be completely swept under which makes me think it was intended for a dining room, but since unused, wasted space was unheard of back in the 1930's when our house was built, we use it in the "kitchen" -- a room designed with a table in mind for eating meals together.

In addition to the table's non-broom friendly base, the tabletop's fancy cut edge collects crud. It also squeaks when aggressively cleaned off or jiggled and is really annoying when I'm in a hyper-sensitive state (aka irritable). Regardless of its idiosyncrasies, a lot has happened to our table.

Our kitchen's mealtime furniture has seen its share of abuse and so far it's held up to everything our household has put it through. It's had gum and other unmentionables (from other people's kids to be sure) stuck underneath, permanent marker and Easter egg dye damage, and dried on wood glue, paper glue, super glue, and nail polish dribbles that's had to be scraped off. It's been caught in the middle of parent-child, sibling, and spousal arguments, bickering, yelling, and scolding more than any other furniture in our home. Our kitchen table has always been the go-to spot for my marathon scrapbooking or sewing weekends and all other crafting whims as well as my cabinet or refrigerator cleaning binges. Worst of all it's had to tolerate my cussing while working on taxes.

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A lot has taken place at that big oval laminated fake wood grain chunk of tree fiber. Still, it holds many of our family's most memorable moments. It's the place where strong consequential disciplinary decisions get announced to our kids one day and birthday cakes are lit with candles for them to blow out the next. The table has always been our imaginary map when new cow-moving plans are about to be carried out, too.

It's the furniture where serious discussions and critical decisions are made, stories and family jokes are told over and over and over, news is shared, gossip is heard, laughing and mocking in jest take place, where everyone talks about their day, and milk gets spilled. A lot of food has passed over and dropped onto that table, too.

I'll always want a table that doesn't harbor bread dough in its edges or gather lint, dirt and food under the table's base ideal for a homeless mouse but when it's suppertime I'm thankful we all sit down and eat at our kitchen table together.

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