The Family Round Table
( Originally Published 1906 )
I PITY the family that does not possess some big, round table, about which to gather in the evening. This is a family altar of cheer that will do much to take the place of the old-fashioned roaring fireplace.
No so-called " centre-table " will answer, however beautiful and costly it may be. A marble-top table is an abomination for this purpose, good only for corners and bric-a-brac, absolutely- worthless for school books and mother's work and the boys' games.
The family round table would best be the dining-table, if the dining-room is on the living floor, the table being adorned with a soft cover of some warm color. f the family round table is stationed here, there is no danger of interruption of the evening's arrangements for work and pleasure by chance callers that may come to see only one member of the family.
For the family round table there should be a good light,—one high enough above the table to send its rays over a generous circumference. There should be the soft cloth already mentioned, and, above all, the table should always be kept clear for action. f it is the dining-table, that will be the case. If it is a table in the sitting-room, it should not be made a permanent depository for books, magazines, and papers, work-basket, and house-hold paraphernalia.
In a home thus furnished (and it is astonishing to see how many homes are lacking this particular) the game of tiddledy-winlls is always in order ; the desire for dominoes in not thwarted by lack of space ; there is a place for John to work on his scrap-book, and for Jennie to work at her new quilt ; there is a place for father to spread his newspaper, and for mother to lay her Harper's; there is an arena for jack-straws, and a round suggestive of crambo.
This family table gathers the household group, and binds them together in a magnetic circle of love and pleasure. There is some-thing in the fact of its being a round table that no square table or oblong table can ever accomplish. If in order to get this family centre you must knock out all the bric-a-brac, and destroy the good looks of parlor or sitting-room, and even send to the attic the most expensive inlaid-top table, it would prove no loss, but a rich and permanent gain.
In these round-table games let the entire family join. If the high-pressure public schools mortgage the children's evenings, secure at any rate a half hour before bedtime, though they must graduate a whole year later. Father should have no business paper more urgent than this, and mother no mending so imperative. And if a neighbor happens in or is invited in, all the better.
There must be mutual giving up " around the evening lamp," a willingness to play others' favorite games though they are our pet aversions. Brains must be put into it all, and hearty good cheer. Have a tournament now and then, a whole series of games evening after evening, to create a serial interest. Keep a record of these games, a round-table chronicle, wherein conspicuous victories may be recorded, and wherein you may see what you were playing this time last year. That is, go into it with all your heart, and make it a strong feature of your home life.
How the children will look back upon it in coming years ! What a university it will prove for them, quickening their minds at the same time that it warms their hearts ! From your family round-table what knights and ladies may go forth, chivalrously to bear themselves in the battle of life !