Mother’s table was one of the hubs around which the rest of our household turned. Although Dad always sat at the head seat and said the prayer of grace at mealtime, the dining table was always Mom’s domain. Three or more times a day Mom’s table was the center of our universe. At her table we ate meals and in between meals had snacks, did homework, played board and card games, and helped in food and meal preparations. Sometimes we visited with siblings or guests over a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea or soda; and many times sitting at her table we received some of the best counseling life affords from Mom or Dad.
Not only did our family home life revolve around Mother’s table, much of the entertaining of guests to our home happened around it as well. We lived in a nice home with a formal Living Room and a family room referred to as The Den both of which were well used when our large family with spouses, children and grandchildren all gathered for large family celebrations, especially as the members of the family aged and the family grew. Almost always these family gatherings included special guests such as pastors and/or parents and family members of some of the siblings’ spouses.
Those large family meals were the hallmark of our mother’s love and zest for family life. Our mother was a wonderful lady who loved to cook and raised six daughters who also loved to cook. Had Mom been born upper class she would have been the consummate American ‘Southern Belle’. In our eyes she was. She took great delight in hosting family and guests at her table to a sumptuous meal of traditional southern cuisine with the help of her daughters and daughters-in law.
That’s right, Southern Cuisine, southern fried chicken, potato salad, butter beans, field peas, corn, squash, turnip greens or collards, and corn bread. Most meals also included one or more meats such as ham, turkey, roast beef, BBQ or fish. Salads of various types were usually available along with pumpkin pies, pecan pies and any number of cakes, pies or other desserts that lined the counter in Mom’s kitchen.
Those elaborate meals that might seem like a banquet to others was a regular affair when we were growing up. Most Sundays Mom hosted such a meal and especially on holidays and those days special in on our family’s calendar. It was never unusual for us to have 25-40 present at those gatherings counting the guests and children who were always treated royally and served first at our gatherings. The only people present because of invitations were church related guests such as pastors and their families and sometimes a visiting evangelist, and the family members of spouses. Mom insisted that her children and grandchildren and their families never needed an invitation to her home or table for meals.
Because of such a tradition around our mother’s table a horrific void came into our lives when our mother passed away in the fall of 1995 due to a heart related illness. Our Dad continued to live another 14 years until 2009 and insisted we carry on the tradition of our family gatherings as a way of remembering our Mother, Euna Mae Gilley Sansbury. And that we did until his death.
Many of us have now moved miles away and have families and traditional gatherings of our own. My sisters who still live near each other plan meals and gathering somewhat regularly and all of us who can still gather. At least twice a year we make great efforts to meet together as a family around a large meal and remember the wonderful parents who raised us with so much love around Mother’s southern table.
-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013
~Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms and to all remembering their sweet mothers; and especially to all my six wonderful sisters who are great mothers to their own families and still mother their brothers every chance they get.
- Sisters, Six! (a triolet) (sansburydr.wordpress.com)
- Moms and Big Sisters: Its All Their Fault (liatbenzur.com)
- Like Mother, Like Daughters (ctworkingmoms.com)
- My Mother’s Table (runninghip.wordpress.com)