Another Day in the Country
I’m back! We made it!
© Another Day in the Country
The holidays are over, and here we are in a new year. Once again, I made the trip from Kansas to California and back to the wide-open prairie. It is the season of rain, rain, and (hopefully) more rain on the West Coast, and it didn’t disappoint. With the shift in the climate, it also was a season of wind in Napa Valley.
That is something new in Napa Valley. Kansas has always been a windy state; but now it’s windy there, too — something that urged on recent wildfires.
I proposed to my daughter the idea of getting her family an actual table for Christmas this year. With my ideas, I thought, “Whoever heard of a family not having a table.” And when I’m talking “table,” I mean a normal-height surface where you can sit down and eat together.
They do have a table, of sorts, but it is a Korean table, and you get to sit on the floor. They mostly use it with their computer. Sometimes my grandson does his homework there. When we do eat at the Korean table — which is rarely — it presents quite a trick for me to get up and down, hence my idea for a Christmas gift.
I remember when my parents used to come and visit me. Even though I saw my home as “normal,” it was an adjustment for them. We did have a table. And, we had a set of chairs to match. It was our bed that caused the problem.
The only full-size sleeping spot in our house was a waterbed. The girls had twin beds. So when my parents came to stay, it was the waterbed they had to contend with. We all laugh when we tell of my dad trying to get out of the bed and calling to my mom, “Martha, make waves.” so he could get momentum to get over the edge.
We thought it was funny; but to Dad it was a major inconvenience and one of the reasons he didn’t visit often.
Now, I’m visiting my children — remembering. Being older, we need things to be comfortable. I need more light to see, so I have a special lamp I leave there in their guest room. I’ve learned to also have my own pillow and down comforter. It’s the table, that’s inconvenient — well, if I’m truthful, it’s also the tiny bathroom, and the lack of chairs. However, unlike my parents, I refuse to let these obstacles keep me from being with my family.
There is one chair in the house. It’s a small, delicate chair that my husband made for our daughter when she was 12. I use it as a bedside table in the room where I sleep.
To go and stay for any length of time in someone else’s home — even if it is your relative — is quite an exercise in diplomacy. I used to feel this when I took my family home to visit my parents.
There were long-established routines, habits, preferences, and even demands that reigned in my parents’ household. When you washed your hands or brushed your teeth at the bathroom sink, for instance, you wiped the sink clean afterwards. And woe be unto the person who squirted up the mirror, left water spots on the chrome, or used the decorative towels.
I used to chafe under that rule, so it was never a requirement in my home. You can then imagine it was quite an adjustment for my children to follow grandma’s preferences.
To be honest, it’s a lot of work to be a good guest and not interfere, too much, in another family’s established routine. I also must admit that the gift of a table also was a gift to me. I imagined having Christmas dinner around their new table; sitting at table height on matching chairs; but it was not to be.
Tables are a major purchase. They change the atmosphere of a home. They take up extra space, and our family home in California, where my daughter lives, is a small house by most standards — 1,100 square feet, very modern, minimal. Deciding to get a table and finding just the right one takes time and negotiation. It will be a major shift in the way they eat their evening meal together.
So, we sat on the couch during Christmas break — as we usually do at their house — and ate together. It’s the “together” part that is most important, after all, on another day in the country.