Com­ing to the ta­ble

Life un­folds around ta­bles in this house­hold.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY - By ABBY WONG

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.

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