I remember when my grandmother was alive, how most everything revolved around the kitchen counter. Whenever we would visit her in Greeneville, Tennessee we’d all gather around the kitchen counter while she diced and chopped and fried something delicious for the whole Collins clan. She was the matriarch of our family and she was the kind of person you just wanted to be around. And so, if you were going to visit with Nanny, it had to be around the kitchen counter, because that was where she did her best work and her best conversing.
As I got older, I was allowed to help Nanny in the kitchen. She taught me everything I know about making the famous dressing at Thanksgiving - about how to fry the cornbread and the secret of using green pepper instead of celery. And when you think you’ve added enough sage, you haven’t – you must add another dash or two. On one of our last Christmases together, Nanny taught me how to roll out my pie dough more efficiently and how to make the edges of the pie pretty. If there’s one thing I received from her, it’s my love for cooking and baking, although I know I received a lot more than that.
On the night of Christmas and the nights that followed, I remember as a pre-teen sitting across the counter from Nanny and my mom every year and we would take the dressing out of the fridge and warm some up on a plate. It was always even better at midnight. Everyone else would already be in bed and we would sit at the kitchen counter and try to keep our laughs to a dull roar, so as to not wake up the men of the house. We laughed and we reminisced and we laughed some more. On New Years Eve, we would sit around that same counter and give a toast to the New Year with eggnog from the plastic cups that were pastel colored that were probably from the 1970’s. We clinked our plastic cups together and said “Cheers!” as we chuckled and enjoyed the time spend together.
At some point or another whenever we would be visiting family in Tennessee, it was like the whole gang of us gravitated toward Nanny and the kitchen counter. I have so many memories of all 13 of us crowded in that small kitchen, some leaning against the washer and dryer, some sitting at the table and some at the counter. That’s when the fun really began. Stories would be told and memories revisited and usually always politics were a topic of discussion. And Nanny would interject in between her trips to the oven and back to the counter with a funny one-liner that would have us all in stitches. I often think about those days around the kitchen counter and I often ache to be transported back there, just one more time to see Nanny in her element, doing what she loves with the people she loves the most.
A couple of weeks ago I was visiting a friend at her home while her husband was out of town. We had planned on having a girls night in, just hanging out and talking in our sweat pants because we were both exhausted and in need of some rest, so we decided we would rest together, enjoying each other’s company. Something magical happened that night that I will never forget as long as I live. By the end of the night, somehow we had gravitated to the kitchen counter. We sat across from each other on stools, much like the ones at Nanny’s house. We talked about boys and student loans and homes and grown up life. It was not earth shattering or ground breaking conversation, but it felt deep and spiritual and like our souls were connecting at that kitchen counter. I left her house that night hungry for more of that – for kitchen counter conversations that leave me wanting more of whoever I’m sitting across from. That leave me feeling like something divinely spiritual has taken place in that holy space.
The kitchen counter is a sacred space for me and I long for more of those conversations and soul connections to happen in my life. It doesn’t have to be the kitchen counter – maybe it’s the living room or the basement or the patio in the backyard. But what I know is that we all need to have sacred, holy spaces in our homes that create family and deep soul connectedness. I will spend the rest of my life longing to create that in my home, work space, and everywhere I find my life resting. I am thankful that Nanny knew this all too well and that she passed on the most precious gift to me. May we all find ourselves at a kitchen counter throwing our heads back in laughter and tasting the sweetest morsels of what deep family has to offer.
Hi! My name is Stephanie, and I'm the girl behind this blog! I'm a pastor and a writer and a lover of all things chocolate. As you browse the content on this page, I hope you find yourself encouraged and smiling. At some moments, perhaps you would even shed a tear or two. Most importantly, I pray you find hope in whatever season you're walking through. We are in this journey together, and my calling is to encourage you along the way!