This holiday season countless families will gather around tables so steeped in family lore and life they might as well be part of the family. Mary Cashen has this Perspective on Grammy’s table.
I sit at the table to sip my coffee, as my 3-year-old daughter climbs up her high chair.
This table we are sitting at looks ordinary enough.
My grandmother bought it in 1948. A beautiful mahogany table, from a factory in Ohio. As Grammy’s family grew to eight children, the large table came in handy. Through my childhood, Grammy rolled out the dough on this table, making Christmas pies. As a child, I helped roll the dough, with mom and aunts. This Christmas, my little daughter and I roll out the crust and crimp the edges, as my family has every Christmas.
Grammy’s table has been in my family for 70 years. It has silently, steadily done its work through Thanksgiving political debates, Easter hams, Christmas turkeys, birthday cakes. At this table, my Uncle Larry, a Jesuit priest, led my family in prayer. Around this table, giggly wedding plans were made, homework completed, fuming parents sat up late waiting for past-curfew teenagers. Happy news – babies expected, college acceptances – was shared. Around this table, funerals were arranged for Grampy, for Aunt Maggie, Aunt Deedee, and Uncle Larry.
Today, I sit at the head of the table.
Now 93, Grammy moved to assisted living, lifetime of possessions discarded. Grammy’s table also moved, to my house. Years had taken their toll – nicks and scrapes, eight kids, 27 grandchildren banging silverware, 70 years of yellowing wax.
It took weeks, but I painstakingly refinished Grammy’s table, sanding dings and applying shiny lacquer. Today, Grammy’s table is beautiful again.
And this chilly December morning, my daughter – shiny and beautiful as the table itself – spreads the flour on Grammy’s table. We will roll out the dough together, and make our own Christmas memories. And perhaps, at Grammy’s table, one day she will bake Christmas pies with her own daughters.
And I hope, as they bake pies that Christmas far in the future…she will tell them the story of Grammy’s table and the family that sat around it.
With a Perspective, I’m Mary Cashen.
Mary Cashen is a program administrator for the San Francisco Unified School District. And today is Grammy’s 93rd birthday.