The Kitchen Table

A few years back, I made a New Year’s resolution to organize every paper in our home. It’s when I realized we had far too many desks for a family of four.

There were office-sized wooden desks for 4 desktop computers, an antique secretary, a  drop down desk in the kitchen, a full sized credenza that housed photo albums, drafting table/art desks full of child projects, a locking 4 drawer steel file cabinet, and a workbench in the basement full of owners/operators’ manuals.

It took me most of 3 months.

There was a lot of sorting, purging, recycling, labeling, filing.

There were a lot of memories, and a few tears.

ethan-allen-maple-dining-table-chairs-399-americanlisted_33605549

Courtesy Ethan Allen

I was happy with the results, and proud of the effort.

But later today, we will sit at our kitchen table and do our income taxes.

It is also where I sit to sort mail, pay bills, etc.

Why ?

It is a throwback to a very special time, a time I shared with my Dad.

I watched in fascination as he did the very same on our 1960’s maple kitchen table.

He never kept a checking account, and chose to pay all his utilities, mortgage, etc. in person, and with cash.

After sorting the bills, and separating the cash into piles, we set out to all of those destinations. He often encouraged me to walk up to the counter, pay the bill and get his receipt.

It was a special bond we shared. And to this day, I still conduct financial efforts at my kitchen table.

Some things just never change.

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56 Responses to The Kitchen Table

  1. My parents didn’t have a checking account either and did the same thing, paying bills in cash!

  2. A special bond that certainly makes paying bills more pleasant! Lovely! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love those everyday details that make up family memories. My dad did his bills every month on a card table that he’d unfold in the living room. I use the coffee table 🙂

  4. Elyse says:

    I grew up with that very same kitchen table — although my dad paid bills from his desk in his (in-home) office.

    I’m really wishing you’d come to my house and organize my papers though. Bring matches.

    • Funny thing. I have a friend who was storing all his adult children’s boxes in his basement. When it flooded, all was lost. Fire would work as well, Elyse. 🚒 🔥🔥 🚒

  5. Erika Kind says:

    It’s true, the kitchen tabel used to be the all-round place for everything. Also for doing homework and stuff.

  6. About 30 years ago we inherited my uncle’s maple kitchen table. Upon closer inspection I could see the indentations of writing etched into the wood, letters upon letters upon letters. I guess they were the vestige of years of my aunt and uncle sitting at that table and writing — letters, paying bills, making lists, the residue of years of life. I didn’t have the heart to sand them away. My daughter has the table now and I hope she feels the same. Lovely post, Van.

  7. I do almost everything at the kitchen table too – the same one I grew up with, since my parents gave it to us when they got a new one.

  8. Growing up, we did everything at the kitchen table – homework, crafts, games – as well as eating. Which was a bit strange if you think about it, because my brothers and I each had our own rooms. The kitchen table just seemed so much better.

  9. That’s a great memory Van! My dad kept a ledger with a #2 pencil of his hours and what he should get paid at the kitchen table. And if the company was out by even $0.01 he went after it. He also rolled change at the table, not the coin tubes you can buy now but the flat paper, laid down at an angle with the propped up coins somehow held in balance while he rolled. ❤
    Diana xo

  10. I remember my dad sitting down and doing the bills and sorting papers. such special things your dad taught you! Wow what a huge project! I am impressed! xx

  11. Mandy says:

    I feel so much better now to know I’m not the only one that conducts business this way, Van. I still don’t have a debit card, use a checkbook–as hard as the banks and businesses try to break me! I love sitting at the kitchen table, paying bills and “reconciling” my checkbook. I’ve been called “old fashioned” all my life, but now that I’m old I say it suits me 😀

  12. George says:

    Some things don’t need to change. It’s nice after all these years to still be able at the table with your dad and do bills..:)

  13. I don’t remember seeing a cheque book until my adult years. In our place everything is cash transaction and our dinning table was where my mother sorted the bills, while my dad used his work room. These little memories leave indelible marks on our lives.

  14. nimi naren says:

    That is so beautiful. It reminded me of such times spent with my Dad. Thank you

  15. lbeth1950 says:

    So good you had that time together. Paying bills stresses me out. I did it for years, but one day I handed the stack over to Bud and told him I’d never do it again. I would if I had to, but it is such a relief to have him do it.

    • We never really discussed it, I just assumed the role from the start. He worked with numbers and $$$ in the millions at his job, but when he makes an entry in our check register, there have been errors. So…it’s all mine, and that’s ok. ☺

  16. Sadie's Nest says:

    Oh, I really need to go through some papers. Thanks for sharing your memories 🙂 I really appreciate our kitchen table, more than just for family meals; bills, homework, talks over coffee…

  17. joey says:

    You know what? Our fathers did the same. I can remember it. Thanks for the reminder 🙂
    My dad (stepfather) was a person who paid an accountant and so are we. We pay most of our bills via the laptops on the sofa, but we pay our water/sewer in person because otherwise we can’t keep it straight. (What a boring blog post that will be someday.)

  18. My dad was the same way. He paid with cash for just about everything. I don’t know why? Maybe because he went through the Great Depression and his family felt if you can’t pay with cash then you can’t afford it. Then again, not having credit might force you to do business that way. However, the kitchen table did seem to be a place of business in our house, too. My wife would have a cow if we did that in our house, though. As it stands now, our table is always covered with homework or something else. Couldn’t do any business there if you wanted to. 😀

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