For us Southern Belles, not only is getting the tree and fireplace mantle in perfect shape but getting the dinning room table is at the top of list in what absolutely has to be done at Christmas. For me, candles are essential when setting the table not only at Christmas but year round. Having candles on the table holds meaning for me.
My grandfather on my dad’s side was a retired Army Colonel. When we visited my grandparents’ home, Mom would always make sure we were brushed up on our manners especially before going to the dinner table. Dinner at Papa Hill’s house was an event every night. The good china and silver were used. And, there were always candles on the table that were lit before we came to the table. No one sat down until Papa Hill took his seat at the head of the dinner table As a teen I would roll my eyes and think; “why can’t we just use the everyday dishes?” I would think this because I knew I would be the one helping after dinner hand washing all the china and silver and putting it all away.
Over the years in my adulthood, I have reminisced on those dinner affairs and their true meaning. For Papa, dinner with his family was special to him. He cherished having his family around the table for not only a meal but for a visit. Many a story and tale were shared around the table as we savored the pot roast, mashed potatoes green beans and apple pie. Grandmother had so lovingly prepared. Along with no one sitting until Papa sat, no one got up until they were properly excused by an adult at the table.
As I reminisce about dinner with Papa and once I had been properly excused from the table, I also remember being in the kitchen with Grandmother up to my elbows in suds helping her wash the china and silver. It was those moments in the kitchen where Grandmother would not say a lot but here and there she would gently and lovingly smile and give you a little wink. She was a quiet lady with little to say but her smiles and winks said it all. You knew all was right in the world.
One evening in May, 2002 I stood by my Grandfather’s bedside just a little before mid night. Jim and I had volunteered to take the night shift of staying up with him at the hospital. From the looks of things, we had a pretty good idea that Jim and I would not be there all night. Late in the night, Jim sat by Papa’s side checking vitals until Jim noticed Papa’s breaths were getting further apart. As these breaths were getting shallow, I came over and took Papa by the hand. While holding tight to his hand, I looked at him and thanked him for all the cherished memories he had given us around the table that was always beautifully set with linens and candles. Then, I said “Papa, the table is now set for you. God has the candles lit and He has your place ready for you to take your seat at His banquet table. ” A few seconds later, Papa joined Jesus at the great banquet table.
The table is set. It is Christmas. The candles, fine linens and china are on the table. A meal will be prepared and the candles will be lit where new memories will be made and old stories shared. As I light the candles, I will not only remember my loving grandparents who showed by example that we are all special but I will also be reminded that Christ is and has always been the center of our family.
How about you? Is your table set? If you haven’t already, add some candles to your table. Let your family know how special they are and remind them that Christ is the center of your home by lighting the candles. Sit around the table and make memories and share old stories. The teenagers may roll their eyes a little but let them roll. One day, they will be thankful that they have such warm memories.
This post is dedicated in loving memory of Col. Carl R. Hill, Sr and Virginia Louise Hill
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