Lessons From the Kitchen Table


adopt from BulgariaI recently attended a family event in Tennessee, my home state, where I got to visit with many extended family members and old friends, people I unfortunately get to see entirely too seldom. We spent time at my aunt’s home, my sister’s house and my in-laws’ home and much of that time was spent chatting and sitting around their respective kitchen tables. As I sat at each kitchen table and enjoyed the many conversations at each one, it was clear to see that this spot is definitely the heart of every home!

The kitchen table is that amazing and enduring piece of well-worn furniture that holds a place of importance, tradition and security in our hearts. It can be made of wood or glass, be old or new, and be shaped in many ways. It is the site of years of never ending homework, unavoidable grade school science projects, competitive family game nights, and where you lovingly address Christmas cards. The kitchen table hosts nightly family dinners, traditional holiday meals and celebrations on birthdays. With my mother and grandmother, we made cookies, cakes, dumplings, and biscuits on our kitchen table. At that same table, I learned to “put up” corn, green beans and okra for the freezer. As a teenager, I remember sitting at my kitchen table trying to get my grandmother to estimate measurements for me so I could record her recipes—something difficult for someone who never wrote her recipes down!

The kitchen table is also one of vast and cherished memories. I remember Sunday dinners where people just showed up to see what my grandmother had prepared and sat down to eat with us. After all, what were a few more people in a family of 5 children? I remember my brothers and sisters and I excitedly talking with our parents about how our day had gone and telling them about what we were learning in school, following a group rendition of “saying the blessing”, of course. I recall my youngest brother sitting at the table for what seemed like hours until he ate at least one vegetable….which usually was shared with the dog in order to expedite the process. My daughter and I spent time at our kitchen table planning her wedding and making endless decorations and favors. My table has been a site for cold iced tea and a delicious dessert with good friends to simply relax and catch up on life. On our kitchen table, we share a traditional holiday breakfast of Eggs Benedict with our children and their spouses on Christmas morning. And recently in Tennessee, it was where we remembered joyful times, loving family members who are now gone and recalled funny stories from the past.

For me, and I suspect my children as well, the kitchen table is one of memories, safety, assurances, love, assistance, appreciation, familiarity, and nurturing. It was the “go to” place when you needed help or wanted to share something exciting. It was the location for eating nutritious foods and sometimes grudgingly expanding our palates. It provided a location for family gatherings, parental support, and volumes of laughter and joy. The kitchen table was and still is a very special place.

Where is the “kitchen table” you share with your children? That one special place in your home where your child feels safe and loved…feels comfortable enough to tell you his fears and failures…looks to you for support and encouragement….watches you with careful observation….learns about life’s lessons and disappointments…..and enjoys the pleasure and security of a loving family? Where is the “kitchen table” in your family where you make enduring memories with your children, nurture them, and create family traditions?  If someone asked your child where they go to be with their family, enjoy a family meal or engage in a family activity, would that be at your “kitchen table”? Where is that safe base from which your child will eventually embark upon his or her own life journey?

All children need to feel safe and secure, loved and wanted, and free to be who they are. They need a family to envelop them, trust them and support them through the rough patches. They need to know that there is a special “kitchen table” in their home where they can always go for reassurance and return to, if needed, to remind them why they are special and unique. We all need a “kitchen table” to visit and re-visit again and again throughout our life, no matter what our ages.

Be sure to spend some special time with your children at your kitchen table!


Karlene Edgemon works as MLJ Adoptions’ Director of Social Services. Throughout her 25 year social services career, Karlene has been able to watch adoption transform the lives of children and she is always brainstorming new ways to support adoptive families before, during and after their adoption.