Unlike many of my friends growing up in mid-Michigan, I was lucky to live in the same city as much of my mother’s extended family. Both of my maternal grandparents came from large Catholic families of mixed ethnic heritage (Welsh, English, Irish, German, and Polish), and their parents ranged from first to at least ninth generation Americans. Due to their ancestors’ experiences, for better and for worse, family was central to my grandparents’ lives, and thus my own. I was at their house multiple times a week, and their living room and dining room hosted a large proportion of my childhood. Christmas Day and Easter dinners, New Years Eve sleepovers, summer cookouts/pool parties, Mother’s Day brunches, after school snacks, and countless rounds of euchre (a very popular upper Midwestern card game). After I moved to Virginia just after college, my grandparents bought new dining room table and buffet and gave me their old dining room set, which they bought in the late 1960s at the same time that they purchased their home. From Virginia, to DC, to Seattle, the table, chairs, and buffet moved with me as a tangible reminder of my family in Michigan that I didn’t get to see as much as I liked. After over 40 years of use and multiple moves, I eventually sold the table and chairs, but kept the buffet. My husband and I keep it in our home to represent the impact of family that came before us, and to remind us to continue making our family a priority as we shape its future.
– Stephanie Arduini