I was so fortunate to be able to grow up in one of the most creative households I know of. My mother, a natural free spirit with a confident, “can do” attitude showed us the world through glasses that allowed for any possibility. My father, a bright, happy, even-keeled man with a warm soul always made sure we knew what we were made of. He was never short on proud, approving smiles or comments like “You are the greatest” or “You really got it, Kid.” In Mom and Dad’s eyes, my three wild sisters and I were the most amazing girls that were ever born. We girls could do absolutely anything if we stuck together, dreamed big, and jumped fearlessly into the stars.
We had a stage in our garage. My Mom hired some neighborhood teenagers to build the wooden platform in exchange for a little extra spending money. This was the big time. Broadway on Meadow Rd… complete with working stage lights. At one point, we had a trapeze swing in our living room overlooking the gravel and grass covered back yard. I suppose it made complete sense for wild monkeys, which we girls certainly were at times, to have a trapeze in the house.
It was fun, and when you really think about it there is simply no real reason NOT to have a trapeze in your house just because no one else does.
(Here is our actual kitchen table – scratches, glitter and all!)
The girls and our friends would regularly gather around this huge “butcher block” style, honey-finished family dinner table. We had a “dining room” but that was rarely used unless company was coming over or it was a holiday. This table was designed and built by my parents to be the ultimate creative kids table…perfect for everything amazing kids like us would like to do.
It was massive and it was sturdy and when you flopped in front of it after school with your fruit roll-ups to watch Saved By The Bell, you knew you were home.
We would sit at that table to eat, draw, paint, talk, do homework, fight, sing, dance (sometimes on it) and do just about everything else. We had serious talks at our “family meetings” there and also played board games. It served as the perfect casual, candle-lit buffet for my parents oh-so-chic intimate evening get-togethers with their friends on weekends when the girls were in bed.
Over the years our antics loosened the bolts that held our family table together and the finish had become worn, discolored, and otherwise permanently marked by our activities. Dad decided to get the table re-varnished to look a little more presentable as it was now time to sell the house since the kids were grown had all moved out.
All of the contents of our childhood home were packed up and sent off to each of the sisters now raising their families in different places across the U.S. The moving truck arrived at my house with random relics of my childhood mixed with newer “designer” things that were put in place per the real estate agent’s suggestions. I didn’t complain. The nicer, newer stuff was added to my house immediately and the rest kept packed up for storage in my garage.
The big butcher block kitchen table was disassembled for the move. The sheer mass of it would have made it completely immobile otherwise. It arrived at my house in pieces and went mostly unnoticed as the movers laid it’s legs and top up against the back wall of my garage.
Some months later, I was ecstatically engaged and getting ready to move in with the love of my life. We were about to embark on the very scary journey of mixing our families and furniture. He with his perfect 3 1/2 year old and I with my amazing 8 year old decided to move in to the house he owned. Much of the furniture from my house was used and most else was sold at a garage sale. With our family suddenly twice the size, we needed a different kitchen table than what either of us had been using for our families of two.
I remembered the butcher block style family table and wondered if it could even be put together (I had remembered it being pretty rickety toward the end of my childhood.) We decided to try anyway — worst case, we put it back in storage and buy a new one. It took three adults to lift the massive top. All the giant bolts (and some L brackets, presumably used to make it sturdier later in its life) were in a Ziplock bag taped to one of the legs.
We took it to our new home, and after assembling it, I noticed that the table top, although varnished over, still had all the pen marks, scratches, tiny spatters of paint, and even little bits of glitter from my childhood! Like rings on the inside of a tree, this was a well-worn map of the history of the way my parents built their family of wild, wonderful, creative girls. And all the beautiful gifts my parents gave me and my sisters growing up.
My beautiful family of four now sits at this table and talks, eats dinner, laughs, paints, sings, draws, and does just about everything else. The little bits of glitter in the table always remind me to tell my boys that they are the greatest, most amazing kids that ever lived and they can do anything if they stick together, dream big, and jump fearlessly into the stars.