An essay on what happens when the heart of the home disappears.
I miss the table in that kitchen, the one long gone, where Aunt JoAnne and Nona would sit when they came for Sunday visits, the smells of roast chicken with rosemary lingering while they sipped strong coffee and I ate Nona’s cinnamon crumb cake. At the kitchen table they would sort things out—Aunt Milly’s recipe for meatballs, what to bring to Dotty’s potluck supper. I was a young listener then, the one who made the turkey-shaped place cards for the Thanksgiving table and finally, after years of being mentored, the thick turkey gravy for the meal. I believed the feeling around our kitchen table was different—and whatever was eaten there tasted better—than when I was a guest at other people’s homes.
Now I believe meals with my own children taste best. I miss my husband’s boeuf bourguignon simmering all day in the copper-bottomed pot on the stove and the children coming in the door after school and immediately asking, “What’s for dinner?” And I think back to how conversations over homemade ravioli helped form the connection Eric and I have to our five children and they to each other. When our children were younger our dinner conversation—tied directly to their attention spans—was short. But as the children have grown, our dinner conversations have lengthened, though they’re still sometimes punctuated with an impromptu rendition of “A Spoonful of Sugar” or a set of knock-knock jokes.