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The season of the bigger room

Not my dining room. jarr1520/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0   Every October since my eldest was born, we have busted out the leaf for our dining room table and left it there through early January. These three months span two family birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and we have found it much easier—and more welcoming—to leave the extended table intact for the duration. If I were able to execute a time lapse of the dining room in this period, in fact, you'd see the table at the center, unmoving, while chairs, linens, dishes, decorations, food, and guests swirl around it. It is a hectic season, but a heart-filling one, and the table leaf anchors us within it. So present was the table leaf that I'd been mulling a reflection about it for a couple months, thinking I'd use it as a metaphor for hospitality or open-mindedness or some such facet of invitation. I even had my title: "The season of the open table." But then we removed the leaf, and my husband casually remarked, &

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