Look Around The Table

There is something about a round table that invokes a sense of hospitality that needs no words. Fashionable? Not so much today judging from the advertisements I’ve seen. The dining experience of modern times involves islands or kitchen counters with tall stools, square high-top tavern models and the impressive rectangular dining table.

Some of my best times have been spent seated at a round table. My mother inherited a round oak table on a wide pedestal that spread onto the floor like the stem of a flower. It held a place of esteem in the dining/TV room and served the overflow of diners seated at the table and benches in the kitchen.

As the size of the family dwindled, the round table was my mother’s spot to dine, entertain and play cards.

The table was never without a proper tablecloth, often one fashioned at her sewing machine from fabrics she pulled from a large trunk of remnants she couldn’t pass up at a Piece Goods sale. Less casual dining brought out colorful material placements.

A lot of life was lived and celebrated around that table. It was where candles were blown out and cake and ice cream served up at many birthday and anniversary observances.

At my mother-in-law’s house, the round kitchen table was the centerpiece of the home. No matter how many visitors popped in for a piece of her Dutch cake and a cup of coffee, there was always room for another chair. It, too, was covered with beautiful tablecloths or placemats that my mother-in-law loved to make. The table coverings changed with each season as did the memorable meals served.

At a round table, there is a different sense of closeness to the persons seated there. Passing the butter means it goes from left to right more often than straight across. Eye contact is made. There are no dividing lines at a round table, just a continuous sense of importance. Everyone is at the “head of the table” when they are seated around rather than in a square or rectangular pattern. Imagine office meetings at a round table where the playing field is leveled. It could change the outcome of such work sessions.

Preschool teachers wisely employ round tables in their classrooms. Obviously there is some psychology at work that sets the path for learning later on. Whatever the reasoning, kids just seem happier coloring and drawing in a round setting.

Maybe round tables should be used in government meetings. That could eliminate in-fighting of who is more important because they sit in a certain seat. When you think of all the positives associated with the word “round,” a round table makes sense, too. We talk about Tiger’s great round of golf. We order a round of drinks for everyone at happy hour. We round up volunteers in times of crisis.

If would do our nation’s leaders well to square off at a round table and drop all the sharp edges of political strife. We can only hope.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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