The Neighborhood Table

Kindness tip for the week:

He's the Man!

It’s okay to ask for help.

Allowing help gives a chance to shorten the distance between loneliness and a life shared.

A few Christmases ago I asked for a new kitchen table, the current “table” was about to disband into dust. The Husband, Keith, found a very cute table and chairs at Wal-Mart online. It was delivered with “some assembly required” about a week before Christmas to our neighbor Jeff’s house.

We have the family Christmas Eve dinner at our house. The four ‘fancy’ plates we got for our wedding come out to play for this night because there is never a worthy occasion to use them. Since we only have the four, it takes awhile to make the table look like it was arranged with a plan in mind. I spend about an hour, choosing the tablecloth and napkins, setting the table, arranging the seating and centerpiece until we can all fit, if we keep our elbows in, and I’m reasonably happy it looks magical. After baking and cooking all morning/month I thankfully disappear to finish wrapping presents behind closed doors while something cooks slowly in the oven. Egg Nog may, or may not, be invited in. Every year this is my schedule. Every. Single. Year.

This particular Christmas Eve, as soon as I closed our bedroom door to tackle speed wrapping, a silent mayhem began in the kitchen. The Youngest,Talia, having memorized exactly how the table was set, took everything off as quickly and quietly as she could, The Husband and The Oldest, Hannah, immediately sent four texts to neighbors who were on stand by to help assemble the table and chairs, run them to our house, silently set them up in our kitchen, dispose of the old table and chairs while The Youngest perfectly reset the new table to look exactly like the old one as fast as was safe.

I heard nothing.

The crew all excitedly waited in the kitchen for me to come out. Two hours later, I did. By that time, the neighbors had left and everyone else was annoyed with me. I didn’t notice the new table for way too long, even with all the beaming faces glaring at me. Since everything looked exactly like how I left it…no need to comment.

Finally, The Youngest sarcastically bellowed, “NOTICE ANYTHING DIFFERENT IN THE KITCHEN??” I looked quickly around from my perch in front of the sink, “Ohhhhh! New chairs!” This was met with a simultaneous group sigh. If I just hadn’t gone with a tablecloth that year, I would have seen the new table and we would hardly remember this even happened.

The whole Christmas Eve shenanigan uprising is priceless to me; the new table that wasn’t crumbling down, the group effort with their commitment to sneakery (should be a word), The Husband who had the thought and generosity to pull this off, the family that is sheltered at this table. Buying anything large at that point in time was a huge committment, even though we needed it, we still were anxious about the choice. It was a screamin’ deal though.  My husband propped up a poem he found in the middle of the table. I still can’t read it without tearing up. (You can read it below.) The words in this beautiful piece, gave our lives purpose and comfort that a table is a worthy investment.

This gift was way more than a new table from Wal-Mart. It was a step back to barn-raising’s and a step forward to neighbors taking care of their own in times of flooding and fires and shootings and innocent Christmas magic.

We can never get rid of this table.

Try to love your time with your family this week and with all of those who have landed near you. In my experience, time together as a family went faster than I could fathom. Well, on most days, some days time actually went slower than originally fathomed.

Do you have a story? Please share it! Everywhere! A positive story can change the course of any day.

The poem that was placed on my magical Christmas table:

Perhaps the World Ends Here

BY JOY HARJO

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

 

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

 

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

 

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

 

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

 

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

 

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

 

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

 

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

 

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

 

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Where we learn to be human. And the fancy plate is the first one on the right. 🙂
“Perhaps the World Ends Here” from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo.

First Semester and All is Well That Ends Well

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We are getting the college student back from her first semester abroad in the wilds of Tucson, AZ.

She got some good grades, bought some life experiences, joyfully declared her major and is ecstatically confident about the choice to be a Rehabilitation major working directly with the special needs students beginning in January. She has found time to dance on her own, take yoga, and break more than one heart. She has even survived a few crippling life events that have occurred here at home in her absence. For this first semester all is ending well with high hopes for the future. There is relief in my soul. I’m not done worrying about my girl, but she doesn’t need to know that. Yet.

She might need to know just how ridiculously proud of her I continue to be. Oh, I hope I remember to tell her.

Here’s a follow-up to the text questions never sent in the post ” It’s Been Five Days Since You Left for College and We’re Still Here, But You’re Not and It Is So Quiet”

Texts that would like to be sent:

Do you like your roommate? Well…it’s probably better that you don’t know anymore than, well….
Did you finish hanging up your pictures? Yes!
Have you made anyone laugh? Too much! Mostly from my innocent mistakes.
Are my favorite shoes having a good time in college? Way too much. Seriously. Too much.

Have you looked at the 52 page photo/quote album I made you and left for you to easily find the moment I returned to your childhood home and left you in the wilds of a college dorm? Yes. 🙂
Have you read any of Dad’s “Phils-osphy” book? All the time. I love it.
Are you flossing? No….

What’s the bathroom like? Dropped my iPhone in the shower, had to buy a replacement with the emergency fund that was gifted with the words “This is the money to use when you have emergencies you don’t want to tell your parents about”… Mom questions: “Is the shower a good place for a phone to be? Why did you bring it into the shower? Is it a safety reason? Or were you planning on doing a little communicating during the conditioner phase of hair care?”

I guess technically they’re your shoes, even though I paid for them. I miss them.

Are you always with another person when you walk on campus at night? NO?????
Are you carrying your mace? The only right answer to this is, yes.

You should see your bedroom here. You actually do have carpeting. I just vacuumed it. Please let it stay visible while you are here.

I miss you.

Your replacement, Chewiethedog, keeps stealing your Minnie Mouse slippers and your Minion. Chewiethedog is coming with me to pick you up today!!!!!

Your Dad wants to keep your bedroom door closed. Well, now we have to keep it closed so the cat won’t pee on your bed. Surely is a little mad that you are gone…too.

Did you apply for a job yet? Sigh.
Do you miss home? A resounding yes!
Are you sleeping enough? Actually it seems so.

How often have you gone to Starbucks? It might be time to purchase some stock in this company.

Your sister misses you terribly. 🙁

It is so quiet. Deafeningly quiet.

The mayonnaise and ranch dressing are taking up too much space and remain unappreciated in the fridge. I wouldn’t have either of these things at this point. They need to be tested for icky-ness.

I’m considering moving. Yup. Still.

What are you reading in English? Have you written anything yet? An A in English???? Good news.

Please. Stay. Strong. ??

How many parties have you been to? Any of them Campus Crusade for Christ? Sigh.

Are you scared? Sometimes.
Are you free and happy? Sometimes.
Excited for your potential to be exposed? Sometimes.
Frightened you don’t have any? Sometimes.
You do. BTW. Yup.

Please don’t lend the pretty shoes to your roommate. I’d like them to visit someday. Soon. Shoes had better be packed to come home for the holidays. I have an event in which I’d like them to accompany me.

Do you want to stay? She wants to stay in college and come home for Christmas. All is good.

This marks the end of the texting questions.

I would like to point out that yet again, everything I worry about, causes every bad thing not to happen.

But, I’m worn around the edges because of it. This Christmas I deeply wish and pray to look at the facts right in front of me as living proof that we will all be alright, and to trust the Lord for the outcomes in the rest of our adventures. Oh goodness. We will be altogether in our beautiful home, that is lit with so many twinkling lights we could guide planes to safe landings, and life will be back to it’s chaotic sweetness. All is well.

And I vow to enjoy the full family in our midst.

On a side note:

Here’s a link to a pretty fun video from SNL about daughters coming home from college. Do not watch it if language is offensive to you. Language is offensive to me, however, this was sooo true!!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alisonvingiano/back-home-ballers

Honestly, do not watch it if you are sensitive to crassness…and other ,you know, harsh stuff.