My grandmother’s kitchen was one of my favorite places on earth.
At times it was bustling and busy as everyone worked together to make a meal for our big extended family.
…but often it was quiet and peaceful. She would sit in her chair and invite you to join her so that she could hear everything that was going on with you. She would have her toast or tea and laugh and talk before sending you up the hill to the corner store to get a treat (and a Bounty Bar for her). We were never allowed to pay, it always went on “the bill” at the store.
Even when the kitchen was empty, she would leave the radio playing quietly in the background. It was one of my favourite hideaways when I needed a quiet moment: when I close my eyes I can see see the way the light filtered in through the windows.
This morning, as I was baking some banana bread for the kids, I decided to turn the radio on for a bit of background noise. In that moment, the light from my windows hit my kitchen just right, and with the radio playing quietly for one moment I closed my eyes and felt like I was back in her kitchen again.
I miss it. I miss her.
It’s funny you know– as a kid, I thought her kitchen was just SO beautiful. White cupboards and tiles and art on the walls.
Looking at the photos now, I have to chuckle a little. The tile and colours are bold and a little chaotic. The art is mostly handmade, and none of it matches. It’s not new or fancy, and it was probably more than a little weird to have a bathroom in the kitchen.
But I realized something this morning. Her kitchen would never have made it into a design magazine, but it doesn’t matter. It WAS beautiful, even if not for looks. It was beautiful because of the way that space made people feel. It was warm and inviting and people wanted to be there, because you knew how happy she was to have you there. Always.
She kept the cupboard full of treats and cookies– I don’t think I ever opened it and didn’t find a box of Viva Puffs or Mr. Christie’s chocolate chip cookies. There was always bread from Golden Crust Bakery in the freezer and pop on the back stairs. If there was something she thought you wanted that she didn’t have, she’d have a list ready in a minute and we’d be off to restock with whatever we wanted.
That kitchen was open to everyone, and you felt that as soon as you walked in the door. So many of my memories are of her sitting in that chair; her face lighting up as she watched people come into the room, ready to hear all the news.
That’s the kind of kitchen I want to have. Sometimes I get so caught up in how my house looks, that I forget that that’s not the only measure of beauty. Her house was beautiful because it was more than a house.
It made everyone feel like home.
I hope that my kitchen will be like hers. A gathering place. A place where people want to be. A place where everyone feels loved and welcomed. A place where there are always cookies in the cupboard.
I’ll keep the radio on for you.