K is for Kitchen Table

tableMy youngest daughter, Ally, who had our old kitchen table at college, wanted to sell it before studying abroad for a year. I, however, insisted on storing the table during her absence, certain she would need it upon her return.

But it was really my need: for Ally to still want to keep a part of home, and for her to remain with us, “in storage,” during the temporary absence that foreshadowed the permanent separation of growing up. Although the table would be cumbersome to move and store, I wasn’t ready to let go.

After all, it was so much more than a table. I remembered how my future husband set it with yellow roses and homemade spaghetti soon after we met, and the subsequent family dinners once we had kids. I recalled the homework, the crafts, the cookie decorating, how the table contained the overflow of books, mail, and all the stuff of family life throughout the years. I had held on to the table to forestall feeling the loss of these cherished times, the ache of the empty nest.

Transitional objects are not just the loved-to-bits blankies and stuffed animals of childhood; they help us cope throughout life. We hang on to them until we do the work of integrating and grieving what they signify, and can relinquish them once they become just the thing itelf.

So after remembering, and mourning, I called Ally and said, “Sell the table.” It had become just a piece of furniture to me, and a ratty one at that. I could bear its loss, and even look forward to what might open up in letting go.

In the end Ally decided to keep the table. Perhaps she still needed a token of home while growing up. Or just a place to eat dinner and throw her books.

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What have you hung on to, and what has helped you relinquish it?

4 thoughts on “K is for Kitchen Table

  1. It’s so hard to part with items that hold memories! I mourn for some items belonging to family members I was very close to that were sold in an auction OVER 30 YEARS AGO. We couldn’t keep EVERYTHING, after all. I still have the memories of good times with those things, and yet, I STILL WISH I HAD THOSE THIIIINGS!

  2. I must admit I’m not that sentimental about items of furniture. We don’t have any family heirlooms. But I do have a thing about sitting down together for meals at the kitchen table. We’re on our second table now but of course it’s not the table that matters it’s those of sitting around it. Our table seats six ordinarily but it expands to eight or even ten if necessary so it works for now.

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