Growing up, some of my fondest times were with my grandparents, my mother’s folks, country people. My grandfather had been a dairyman during the war, World War II. After he moved his family of four into Joplin and concentrated on his properties, rentals, acreages and a thriving used furniture business. I think he WAS an ORIGINAL PICKER!! As you can see my granny Viv was a cutie! Of course aren’t all grandmas to their grandchildren? It makes no difference is they are fat or thin, have a wart on their nose or smell of flowery perfume, your grandma is just one of your favorite people in the world! I know mine was. She was born in 1910 and look at her as she was in her 50’s, fun, wild dresser, a smile and laugh was easy to her.

As family tradition we many times for holidays gathered at her house around a table sharing food and making deep lasting memories. My grandparents always had a dining room and a table that during the holiday they brought out the extra leaf for the table to expand it and accommodate our growing family. We did all fit around the table. “Pass the jello salad. I need the gravy. More cranberry sauce, please. Grandpa can I have some more ham?” The food was passed and your tummy was just so full and dang it was fun to be there, safe, warm, loved by those around the table, or at least they put up with you! I have heard stories from my cousin how my brother use to torment her, but I was unaware of that, they were younger than I and my place was first among the grandchildren.

My grandfather died way back in 1974, grandma sold the house and moved to a smaller place. There were no longer times together as family, I left the country in 1970 and was not apart of gatherings from then on. Oh sure from time to time, but nothing like the past and I remember even fifteen or twenty years ago just longing for that gathering, but it would never be the same.

As I work especially in Uganda with orphan children, I try to install in them a sense of family around a table to eat, share dreams, hopes and everyday life. It is important for them to know after God’s concern for them, I care about them and take time to ask, coax, their opinions out of them.

My grandmother’s table went to my mother as the older of the two girls. It was in her home and I knew one day it would be mine. My mom never really used it for anything other than a collector of things with a lace tablecloth on and the drop leaves down. For five years that lovely handcrafted table with four chairs remaining has been in the back of a storage unit in Joplin, Missouri. The tornado that destroyed so much of town, JUST missed the location, only some damage in the front of the property but like a time capsule my brother and I opened the unit in October and we took the table from the back. We discovered it was dated and numbered. For the first time since its construction the legs had to come off, then it would fit into my car to bring it back with me finally after so many years.

In my apartment I had saved a space for it, one wall and when it came in the width of the table fit EXACTLY! Yes, I have things from my travels on the table, cloth from Africa, a hand woven runner from Guatemala, a print from Cuba, a basket from Ethiopia, in a Honduran basket a light bulb that has miraculously survived from my GREAT grandmother’s house, it is one of the first light bulbs and it says it puts out the light of sixteen candles.

This Thanksgiving I was determined to use that table as I had known from years before and it was pulled out. People joined around it to have a memorable meal, turkey, pies, laughter, recollections of times past and rejoicing in the ability to be family in Christ with a solid foundation and a lovely wooden table, an heirloom to share.

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