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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Full Suburban: A dining table is more than just furniture

UPDATED: Sun., Oct. 3, 2021

Emmett and Hyrum Ditto practice piano in the background as the Ditto family’s eclectic dining room furniture serves as a spot for abandoned crafts before dinner.  (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
Emmett and Hyrum Ditto practice piano in the background as the Ditto family’s eclectic dining room furniture serves as a spot for abandoned crafts before dinner. (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

Is it normal to blow kisses to your furniture after it’s been sold and is being carried out of the house? No? Just me? Anyone who has read this column for a while knows that I am a sentimental person. Sometimes, that sentimentality manifests itself in my treating inanimate objects as if they are trusted and loved members of my family.

It’s not all that crazy if you think about it. Our furniture bears witness to some of the most important moments of our lives, both the precious and the mundane. The toddler bed is where I tucked our first child into bed each night, followed by every son and daughter after her.

Our old couch was literally the soft place for each member of our family to land, whether they were engaging in polite conversation (not likely) or practicing somersaults before dinner (much more likely).

And the dining room table – don’t even get me started on that. The dining room table was where our family gathered, laughed and sometimes fought – but always gathered nonetheless. But all good things must come to an end, which is why Logan and I have been slowly upgrading our furniture situation over the past year or so.

Though we’ve been out of the graduate school life for about 13 years, we’ve still been hanging on to furniture we either purchased for cheap right out of school, were given for free by family or literally plucked from the dumpster outside our apartment at the University of Washington.

It was an eclectic furniture setup to be sure, but it met our needs, and since my design style leans toward thrift store chic anyway, it didn’t bother us too much – for a while anyway. “This is getting ridiculous,” Logan declared one night a couple months ago as he sat gingerly on a broken dining room chair we’d had since the day we got back from our honeymoon.

I had recently painted them a cheery Martha Stewart green to infuse some more life into them, but the paint was already starting to chip off. “Can we get some grown-up furniture?” My ears perked up. I was suddenly on high alert like a dog who has had a sausage waved in front of it.

Although part of me liked our eclectic furniture, another part longed for a civilized dining-chair-and-table situation like those I had seen in the homes of my friends, with chairs that were all the same color and a tabletop that hadn’t been marred by a crazed 4-year-old with an address stamp.

I chose my next words carefully: “What I’m hearing is that you would like me to buy whatever I want for the house. Is that correct?” Logan hesitated, as this was dangerous territory. Finally, he nodded. “Don’t you think it’s time?” he asked. “Say no more,” I replied.

Over the following days and weeks, I researched all things dining-table-and-chair-related. I went to stores, searched online, looked through catalogs and read reviews. You would think I had been tasked with choosing the next in line to inherit the throne.

But really I was just trying to find a table that would fit eight chairs comfortably so we wouldn’t have to endure the nightly fight of “Why does he always get a chair and I always have to sit on the bench even though I’m older?” Finally, I honed in on a table and chair setup that seemed like it would work for our family.

As the delivery date drew near, I asked around among friends to see if I could find a happy home for our old furniture. One friend took the Martha Stewart green honeymoon chairs for her daughter-in-law; my heart honestly hurt a little as we loaded them into the back of her truck.

Another friend took the dining room table. If it’s any indication of what kind of shape it was in when we got rid of it, let it be known that it now sits in her barn and serves as her workspace for cutting and arranging floral bouquets.

The bouquets are beautiful, and she grows the flowers herself, so she can give them away to friends and family just because. It’s a happy end for a happy table. I hope it knows how much I loved it.

Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at dittojulia@gmail.com.

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