Coming to the table
Life unfolds around tables in this household.
DINING tables are important to us, so we have four in our Sydney home. We dine at our tables daily – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
On winter nights, we usually seat ourselves cosily around the table in the living room where the heater is. This table stands in front of big bookshelves filled with books and photo frames. We love this spot as it oversees the maple tree in our front yard.
The light is dim here, compounding the rather ‘ romantic ambience”. Sitting so close to my beloved husband and children gives me a romantic feeling because we all feel love.
Eating together at a table and away from the television (or gadgets) is important. It is the only time of the day when we are together, chatting and laughing away life’s trivialities, though, at times, there are sorrows to be shared and acknowledged too. But on Friday nights, when the weather is cold, we confine ourselves to the house and have dinner at the coffee table in front of the television.
A good show and steaming hot food draw happiness out of our pores, binding our young family in love and humour.
In spring and summer, we love to munch our food slowly in the garden. That’s where our third dining table is. No house is complete without a good al fresco deck, and we have a table and benches in the garden surrounded by blooming flowers. The pealing of wind chime accompanies our laughter and the occasional sneezing with spring’s pollen wafting in the air. We love (right) The various tables in the house bear witness to this family’s life. our garden – a pretty one – one that we promised our kids we would have.
Years ago, this corner of the house was a crumbling courtyard. Now, after much work, it has become an essential extension to our house, much loved by my kids as they laze in the hammock or do their stuff at the table. But when it comes to breakfast, everything on the table must go, because we wouldn’t want to miss eating and chatting there.
It is a blessing to be able to sit and have a meal together. For those who lead busy lives, this is such a luxury. I rarely sat with my son when we were living a hectic pace in Kuala Lumpur. Then, we’d eat buffet-style, and I always ate alone. It was not until we moved to Sydney that we had proper dining tables, cutleries and placemats for formal and family meals. Five years of eating together has strengthened our bond.
“Never miss a meal together,” my husband always says to our kids. And that is also a way to draw our children home when they become teenagers. The fun we have at mealtimes around our dining tables will lure them back, I am sure.
“What do we have for dinner?” is always the question from my children. It is a good question because they seem to look forward to dinnertime.
“But I have not had my dinner?” my daughter frowned one night shortly before bedtime. She felt something amiss as we had had our dinner early in a restaurant. She missed our dinner routine and felt weird.
So, I served her a small bowl of soup with some leftover rice. She tucked into her meal on the high chair at the marble table in the kitchen. This fourth table of ours was custom made. It is the centrepiece of our kitchen, providing us plenty of room to cook, work, read, write and eat.
The children have had countless bowls of soup at this table and countless more of porridge when flu strikes and hay fever disrupts life. It is at this table that we dish out medicine and vitamins. It is also at this table that we joke about each other’s doodles.
Yet another table indeed, and the day when it was installed was the day we officially settled in as a family. I have vowed to make ours a household of humour and love. Tables pull us together, and in our home, there are more than dining tables. The most popular work desk is mine as my children love to muck around in my study or simply sit next to me, doodling.
The most charming table is a refurbished round stool I picked up from a flea market. It holds the first lamp we bought, a lamp that provides my kids comfort when they get up in the middle of a chilly night.
There is a makeshift table, too. It is none other than a big storage box under a pretty quilt. My daughter used to draw there when she was little and short. All these tables, and whatever is in or on them, are our household treasures. Around them sit our family, living with light-heartedness and understanding.
Tables, tables, tables ... I believe there is still room for one more.
Meeting point: The table in the garden is a favourite place for the family to dine al fresco and for the children to do their projects on a warm day.