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At the Table

In the Caloocan house where I grew up, we had a long dining table that could seat 14 people. It was big enough for our large family (my parents and 11 children). I recall many happy meals on that table, with us sharing news of the day and Papa regaling us with his stories (which he told over and over again). We had countless relatives who ate with us on that table, and we had to put additional chairs so everyone could sit. I would bring along my school friends for lunch and sometimes, dinner. I remember crying on that table when no special food was prepared for my birthday and scalding myself when I poured hot water from a thermos. On lazy summer afternoons, Rusty, Beng and I would play pingpong on that table and thankfully, did not break anything in the dining room.

On that table we laid out food for my 18th birthday. It was also there where I served my then fiancé Jojo the first food I cooked for him – burnt fried chicken. We shared our first meals together on that table as a young couple during the early years of our marriage. At that table, the whole family would gather together for Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries. It was also at that table where we last shared a meal after Papa's and Mama's deaths.

The Caloocan house is now gone, and I don't know where that table went. But if I should see it again, it will surely bring back memories of fun, laughter and tears shared over the years.

The first place we lived in here in Canada was a basement apartment. It had a small eat-in kitchen with a table good enough for 2-3 people. So we had to take shifts for our meals.

When we moved to a house, someone gave us an oval glass dining table with six chairs. The chairs needed some fixing, so we bought some leather and Jojo upholstered them himself. Aryan and Yobel had to sit on folding chairs, one at each corner of the table. It was a bit cramped for eight of us, but we were thankful to have it for free.

That dining table became the hub of our family activities. On it we dined, read newspapers, made homework, completed projects. On it we served food for birthdays, reunions, prayer meetings and other celebrations. On it we also had many serious discussions on family issues.

That table served us well for seven years. When we moved to another house, we decided to give it away and finally buy a table that would fit all of us. We settled for a long wooden table, much like the table that we had in Caloocan. It has eight chairs with room for more. There's plenty of space to spread out school materials, textbooks, newspapers, even my portable sewing machine and sewing kit.

We are already starting to build memories around this table. As a family, we try to eat together as often as possible. We like to invite relatives and friends to share meals and stories with us. After all, it's not really the table that's important but the people who gather around it. At the table, we not only eat food to nourish our bodies but share of ourselves and give thanks to the One who provides for us. This table will be a witness to all the special people and events in our lives and we intend to keep it for a long, long time.

There, too, before the LORD, your God, you and your families shall eat and make merry over all your undertakings, because the LORD, your God, has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 12:7

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