The kitchen table has always been an important part of my life. Growing up, it’s where I remember major family times taking place. I have vivid recollections of a long table in various settings, often Grandma’s, filled with the special occasion China, heaped with piles of steaming food, surrounded by laughter and talking.

Throughout my school days, I did my homework at the assorted kitchen tables I had access to. In grade school, I never spent long there, but in high school, with the introduction of late night coffee-ingesting in order to go to bed assured of my chances of success on certain math and chemistry tests, the kitchen table became an indispensable part of my studies. My parents still have the kitchen table I used through those years, and I think, if they ever got rid of it, I would have to put it somewhere in my own house. In college, I got a card table for my room in my second year, though it never served as well as the wooden tables of my younger days. The long library tables were too silent (and restrictive of aforementioned coffee-ingesting habits), nor would they fit in the dorm rooms.

And now, my husband is taking classes, and I see him use our dining room table in the exact way I used kitchen tables. In fact, that is the only use for that table. I have thought of getting rid of it, but where would he study? (The kitchen tables – yes, there are two – are much too full of clutter to be suitable.)

The kitchen table at Grandma’s is still a place we naturally linger at after dinner, and often a place we will pull a chair up to even when no food is involved. It’s as natural as breathing. In my own home, I find that certain kinds of family – especially the ones we most enjoy having over – tend to migrate to the kitchen and gather around our tables, whether or not they are filled with clutter. We have the heartiest laughs around the kitchen table, and we find ourselves forging new memories, captioned with smiles and giggles, as we collect there.