But one day I decided that my love for my son was immeasurably greater than my love of comfort and I accept his invitation with considerable trepidation.
We arrived at the Warrumbungle National Park along with what felt like half of Sydney, all vying for a spot. My son made a dash for a place right at the furthest edge of the camping ground looking out over the bush, giving us a room with a view.
What none of us knew was that the Warrumbungles was in the grip of a mice plague. Some old train carriages at the other end of the park that had been turned into cabin accommodation, now lay deserted by their paying guests who objected strongly to a cavalcade of mice running over them all night as they tried to sleep.
Mice were everywhere, around the tent, over the tent and when we took down the tent several days later, there were lots of dead mice under the tent. We mouse-proofed our food by hanging it from the tent pole and walked between scurrying mice wherever we went, not a happy prospect for someone who hated mice almost as much as she hates spiders.
He cooked us breakfast over the open fire and we sat around that camp table eating one of the best breakfasts I had ever tasted. The most basic table and the simplest food but its up there amongst my most memorable meals.
And I nearly missed it.
That table introduced me to a life I’d never experienced before and helped me understand my son’s heart in a way I’d never have known had I not ‘tasted’ his passion.
In so many ways a table is a symbol of sacrifice. Someone has to plan the meal and oh dear how often I’ve been exhausted just trying to decide what to cook; indecision, stuck in a rut or just not feeling very creative. Then there’s the shopping, queuing, carrying it home, putting it all away and the cooking hasn’t even started!
And although cooking is one of my favourite things to do, there are days when the temperature soars, when even I lose the enthusiasm to throw myself into meal creation. And when we came home as a family after a long day out, feeling really weary, it was hard to summons the energy to be the one to get up and cook so we could all sit down to good food. It was very much a sacrifice of love, frequently unnoticed, because that’s just what mum does (or maybe dad in your household), but the reward was enjoying a family meal together, the laughter, the stories and the togetherness.
I guess each one of us has the choice to sacrifice each time we come to the table. To be involved, to choose to listen and give someone else space to share their story and to contribute in a way that makes the time more than a mere meal, but a meeting of minds and hearts.
I’ve sat around tables large and small, timber tables aged by time and candle wax, glass tables, camp tables, scrubbed tables, polished tables, indoor and outdoor tables, some bare and some topped with the finest table settings, but always the meal is a gift, a sacrifice of someone’s time and energy, a giving of themselves. And I've had some amazing conversations around those tables, simple folk who've shared their heart, their challenging thoughts and sometimes their tears. And that too has been a gift; a gift from the table.