Thanks to the generosity of a downsizing grandma and eight amiable siblings, we packed up some solid wood memories Saturday afternoon and gratefully hauled them home.
If furniture could talk, our new-to-us dining room table and matching breakfront would babble happily of birthday cakes and Scrabble games, champagne toasts and bratwurst picnics, Chicago pizza and Chinese food, salmon and lobster tails.
They’d tell the story of a self-made man who loved to sit around a giant table filled with family, digesting food and the news of the day over a hot deck of cards. Grandpa Vince played Sheepshead and Hearts with equal ferocity. He insisted each little player follow the rules, win graciously and play fair. One of the proudest moments of my less- than-impressive gaming career occurred during a heated Hearts game in the summer of 1991 when I “shot the moon” with all 13 hearts and the Queen of Spades, an especially difficult feat when performed at the elbow of a card-counting father in-law.
If Grandpa Vince was the heart of the family dinner table, then Grandma Mary Jane was its soul. She manned the table’s south end with wit, grace and her trademark blueberry cheesecake. An unflappable matriarch, she let neither shattered glass nor splattered stain keep her from her appointed rounds of broccoli. She served it at every meal. Grandma Mary Jane hosts friends and family around a different table now, but maintains the same cheerful, squabble-solving, take-all-comers hospitality she always has.
With their happy history and impressive capacity for place settings, the dining room table and china cabinet anchor our family home now. Molly and I carefully filled the hutch with a mixture of my own wedding china and my Grandma’s. We look forward to celebrating both sides of our family history when we place those china plates around that solid table.
We’ll keep the chair warm at the south end of the table for Grandma Mary Jane, we’ll fire up the post-meal card games in honor of Grandpa Vince and, just like we have for the past three decades, we’ll serve broccoli at every large family meal.