A homestead kitchen full of thanks

I sat for the longest time staring at my laptop screen Wednesday night, contemplating what to write for this space today when I wasn’t nodding off, dreaming that I was done with what I awakened to discover I had yet to begin.

The content of these columns from week to week, month to month, year to year, is naturally driven by what’s going on in my life or what isn’t, what happened that I can turn into a 500-some-word message or story that hopefully you can relate to, enjoy to a degree or maybe just shake your head and move on with haste to all the supplements inside.

Inspiration also comes from the calendar – the official reminder of this or that to come, those special days of the year when we’re inclined to be in a little more reflective happy mood, tax filing day not included.

So Thanksgiving being Thursday, duhh, I realize I have a built-in column topic.

It’s an easy one to write, too, because I am a grateful person, a content gal with lots of blessings in life.

There’s honestly no day where I don’t acknowledge gratitude for something, even if it’s the end to what has seemed to be one of those not-so-hot days.

I’m thankful for many, many things that I like to think I don’t take for granted.

But as I’m sitting here writing this column late on Wednesday evening, November the 20th, in the quiet of the kitchen of the Hout House homestead in which I grew up, I think what I’m most thankful for at this very moment is the gift of having childhood memories of this particular room.

I’m a kitchen person at heart.

It strikes me odd how this one I’m in right now used to seem soooo big, just like the table that we crowded around for dinner and other activities.

My seat was to dad’s right, the podium from which I proclaimed everything to be my favorite dish, much to my mother’s delight.

The kitchen was the hub of activity, the heart of the house, a busy place.

We did our homework here, mastering math and making salt maps.

We baked and iced oodles of sugar cookies at Christmas that we decorated and stashed in the International Harvester deep freezer in Denmark’s coat boxes.

We made three-dimensional star ornaments dipped in wax and sprinkled with glitter.

This was where mom graded her Spanish papers, crafted lesson plans, pecked out pop quizzes on a manual typewriter.

Dad polished his good shoes in the kitchen, whistling all the while. He read the paper at the table, snapping the pages as he turned them.

The kitchen expanded to accommodate holiday company, as if it had an elastic waistband. It was a good noisy place because of it. The kitchen island was full of food, guests circling around it like sharks poised for a feeding frenzy.

I hogged the floor register for warmth when I came indoors from sled riding, the same register where a bowl of cinnamon roll dough was entrusted to rise untouched.

Mom sits in dad’s place at the table now, in this kitchen that’s the same yet different through my adult eyes.

Things have changed, yes, but with that, I can still muster grounds for gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer with the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)