The usual get together spot at my house…the kitchen table. It’s always been a place where important conversations take place, where people gather to celebrate, mourn, contemplate, or just be. If your kitchen table could talk, we would hear the most intriguing stories of your life. When I think back to the best memories of my life, it almost always involved being at the kitchen table. There were discussions about life, love, death, challenge, and of course, FOOD!
Playing board games with my cute family…
My parent’s kitchen table was THE hot spot when I was growing up in Hawaii. It was hardly ever unoccupied, and if it was, that probably meant no one was home. It was very non-descript. It was not your traditional dining table set that you would buy at the mall furniture store. It was white on top, around 6.5 feet long, 3 feet wide, and had wooden cupboards underneath to store things. The chairs that went with it were given to us by my Grandpa Manabe, and as they broke one by one, they were replaced with random folding chairs or stools. As plain as it was, it was actually the coolest table I’ve sat at. My dad built this table, probably with my mom in mind since the kitchen was her domain. It’s seen a lot of traffic…and experienced a lot of love.
As you enter my dad’s house, you have to walk through the laundry room, which takes you straight to the entry way for the kitchen. The table is on the left, right as you enter. I remember when I started dating and my boyfriends would hate walking through there because my dad and his gaggle of friends were always at the table, drinking and most certainly judging.
My most important kitchen table memory was from the early 90’s when my dad sat all 3 of his daughters down to tell us that we had another sister who lived in Oregon. It was at that very table in the photo above and I still remember where I sat. It was a very heavy day, filled with lots of questions. You could tell my dad was not looking forward to the conversation, but at the same time you could feel the sense of urgency. I remember feeling grief for my mom, anger at my dad, and a need to meet my other sister! I was excited, sad, happy, confused, and angry all at the same time. Then I found out my new sister (she was 12 at the time) had the same name as me (she was named after her grandmother)! How strange (we always joked about her being the “junior”)! I will never forget that day and am thankful everyday that she is in my life!
The other kitchen table memories are kind of general, in a sense. This table was a place where my family gathered. At every family party, the occupants at this table changed by the minute, sometimes by the hour. You could always count on it being full. In this photo, which was taken 4 years ago, I remember exactly what we were all reminiscing about! We were talking about our annual family camping trips and all the fun stuff (and sometimes careless stuff) we used to do! Everyone looked forward to these camping trips. They weren’t technically “camping” trips either! Our family used to own a beach house on the North side of the island. Camping trips were planned for a week or sometimes two every summer. It was so well organized by the adults that all the cousins would have SO MUCH FUN! They actually planned “kitchen patrol” shifts, or we called it “KP Duty”. I think I was the only cousin that enjoyed it…haha! So much fun memories.
Once a year, this table becomes a production line for sushi, mochi and just general prepping of foods. New Year’s was an important event in our family and everyone had a role in the production of food. Prepping began days before the event, and leftovers seemed to hang out well over a week after the festivities! There was never a time when this table was completely empty.
Everyone, including my son has learned to make many things on this table and I’m sure he will continue to do so. Lessons on LIFE AND LOVE…all from one table.