Clearing the Table

Clearing the Table

A Short Story by Cece Poister


Like most families in the fifties and sixties, we ate dinner at the same time every night and sat down as a family to eat. Everyone in our house also had chores to do. Some were weekly and some daily. One of the daily chores was after dinner. There were three tasks: clean off the table, wash the dishes, dry and put them away. This week it was my turn to “clean up”.

In our kitchen we all sat at a picnic table my dad built. It was big enough to seat four on each side and two at the end. The other end butted up against the wall. We all ended up sitting in the same spot every night. The end seat of the table was mine along with another sister. One summer evening I had gobbled down my dinner, was bored and waiting impatiently for everyone else to finish so I could get my job done and get outside to play. I got up from the table and looked around to see what I could do to amuse myself as I waited.

In the corner was a ten-pound bag of unopened potatoes. So, for no particular reason, I picked it up and began to whirl the bag around while staying in one spot. Now, if you have ever done this with something heavy such as a bucket full of water, the centrifugal force is wonderful. It makes you spin around faster and faster. I was enjoying all of this when, all of a sudden, I realized the bag had slipped from my hands. If I had aimed, I could not have hit the table with better accuracy. It landed right on the front edge and cleared the table from one end to the other. Food, milk, coffee, plates- they all went flying. Most of my brothers and sisters were caught with their forks midway to their mouths. My dad had just put his coffee cup down and it was now upside down on the floor. Food and beverages were everywhere. On the floor, wall and people’s laps. Mashed potatoes slowly slid down the wall, milk dripped to the floor and unfinished meals were scattered everywhere. (The only good news was nothing broke because in those days almost everyone had plastic dinner ware.)

I froze knowing I was in big, big trouble. So I stood there looking in disbelief at what had just happened and waiting for the hammer to fall. To my complete amazement, everyone started to laugh, including my parents. As my mom and dad got up from the table (dinner was decidedly over now), all Mom said was, “ You have a big clean up job tonight” This was met with much laughter and taunting from my siblings.

So, what was going to be a quick clean up was now at least double the time but I was filled with relief and joy at my families reaction.

Psalm 126:2-3

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