Tuesday, December 20, 2005


My husband often quotes an Arab proverb, "the kitchen is the university". In a home-school family it is more true than usual Our kitchen table as been the foundation for drafting edible topographic maps; building french pastries; designing jewelry; plotting birthday kidnappings, election strategies, and murder mystery parties. From it we have served up weekly church potlucks, midnight comfort and fresh perspective. This table has been equally hospitable to old friends, needy strangers and sometime traitors.

Our family's most nourishing traditions gather around this table. Here my husband and I share a dark-of-the-morning coffee to plan the day. Here my children and I gather for breakfast devotions. And of course it is the center of the old Southwest sobre-mesa.

Sobre-mesa is the extended conversation after the main meal of the day. We all sip our coffee slowly and consider. Every topic is fair game, and everyone is expected to bring a topic of interest to the table. Our sobre-mesas range from poetry recitations to political debate to plans and hopes. It is a time when we can try out controversial proposals or work out knotty problems without fear of censure. It is an opportunity to practice supportive candor and to delight in the minds and characters of those around the table.

Over the years, our table has become rather shabby. Scorched, scratched, stained, the abused cherry wood had become a liability. The last time Elizabeth brought home a drop-in guest from her community college class, I squirmed as we poured the chai. All the tablecloths were in the washer.

But last week, the children and I drug home (much later than usual) from our debate club to a pungent fragrance that wasn't the dinner that should have been simmering. It was the smell of fresh varnish. Gleeful mischief shone in the children's faces. They had conspired with my mother to keep us out as long as possible so that mother could complete the table refinishing as a Christmas surprise.

Our table glows like a tiger-eye, not just a wood finish restored, but a tradition restored. It was my mother who passed to me the table-top traditions that she recieved from her mother. We have each added our own improvements. But our traditions all trace their lineage back to a Father and Son who conspired to restore the whole Creation in order to spread their Feast of reconciliation. May our table be a taste of that Table.


eph2810 said...

Oh, how beautiful. May I bring my Black-Chai-Spice tea and pull up a chair? I think you would be so much fun to have a conversation with. You know, at my parents house it was like that. We always met at the kitchen table for all meals of course, but also for talking with each other. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tradition...
BTW - Wiener Wuerstchen are some kind of Hot Dog, but much, much better. They have some kind of smoky flavor. If you have a German butcher around where you live - they will have it :)...
Have a blessed & Merry Christmas.

Kim Anderson said...

Thank you! I'll check with my butcher, who does sometimes have unusual sausages.

Black Chai Spice tea! I can smell it now...

Bethany said...

What a beautiful post. I recieved a magnificent new table just this summer from my dad as a gift. I moved into a new home then. I just recently (November) got married.

I hope to be able to write a post like this one day! :D

Richard Kindig said...

1. So glad to see you're a homeschool debate family. We did that too!
2. Your closing comment about the Father and Son planning the reconciliation of the world gives refreshing perspective to everything we all do.
3. I felt a need to reply to your editorial in crosswalk:

*** Quote ***

Homeschool Homicide and the Cult of Youth
Kim Anderson

When I was growing up, my generation was obsessed with personal fulfillment. This led many into self-destructive indulgences: promiscuity, drugs and loud, loutish demands for more of everything. There were deaths resulting from over-indulgence, but very rarely did the youth of my day seek death for its own sake.

That, it seems, has been left to this generation. In Pennsylvania last month, we read of a 18-year-old homeschooled youth, David Ludwig, shooting his girlfriend's parents and taking off with the girl to "make a new life" ( http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/18684 ). And just recently, a second homeschooled youth, Patrick Armstrong, was arrested for killing a 14-year-old neighbor girl ( http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/news/state/051202armstrong.shtml ).

This recent spate of killings was apparently perpetrated by youth from the sector in which we would least expect to find them: the close-knit community of Christian home-schooling families in which parents have a more-than-usual investment in their teens.

So what went wrong? The endless speculation on the inner workings of the handful of families involved may throw some light on the specifics of these cases, but from the bloody halls of Columbine to these current cases, some disturbing cultural trends emerge.

Even though these young men have parents who were involved with them, they still swim in the sea of norms and expectations of our peer-dependent, media-saturated, youth obsessed society. Perhaps we would benefit more by questioning our culture's view of adolescence, our cult of Youth.

In our culture, adolescence is characterized by expectations of increasing freedom without a corresponding expectation of increasing responsibility. We encourage our youth to "enjoy life while you're young," and to avoid getting burdened with obligations and responsibilities too early. We urge each other to remember that "the magic is in the child." And we urge our youth to seek their own way without reference to what their parents value or to what previous generations have learned. We see the resultant disdain for elders reflected in the scornful Blogs our youth pen, the disrespectful pop lyrics they mouth, the extremes of innovation they crave.

Youth is indeed a wonderful thing, however, youth lacks experience; and, lacking experience, it lacks critical components of compassion and judgment. Youth has incredible energy and drive toward a better future. But youth's power will never be harnessed to the good, until it can be yoked with the experience and judgment of age.

And it isn't enough for a family here, a family there to attempt the change. The society as a whole must have a change of heart. The generations need each other -- desperately. Apparently, it is a life-and-death matter.

***End Quote***

Thank you for reminding homeschoolers that despite our messianic hopes, we cannot undo the fall of man. "What went wrong" here was the same thing that went wrong in Genesis 4 when Cain slew Abel, or in 2 Samuel 13 when David's children got involved in rape, incest, and murder. There are billions of individual reasons, but ultimately the blame rests with the fall of man and the combination of imperfect nature and imperfect nurture that all people must struggle with.

The answer, I believe, lies not with an impossible attempt to change the course of human history by being better parents and better homeschoolers.

We have a responsibility to do our best -- and my hat's off to you for doing, evidently, a fine job. (My wife and I did a fine job raising our 4 daughters, too, by the Lord's grace). But 2 Timothy 3 tells us we can expect not only individual parents who fail, but whole societies that fail.

Here's what I'm banking on: the Father and the Son, when the proper time arrives, will change the course of human history and will turn all the failures of parents and children into learning opportunities during the day of judgment -- not a walk in the park, but a much happier time than most of my Christian brethren think. Isaiah 26:9. Psalm 96

I'm so glad to discover your blog, by the way!

Kim Anderson said...

Welcome, Richard! Thanks for your thoughts about the Crosswalk article.

I like your notion that the Judgement will have educational value as well as putting an end to all this unjust nonsense.

Kim Anderson said...

Bethany, congratulations! I hope your table will have many wonderful tales to tell.


Related Posts with Thumbnails