Come to the Table(s)

My family and I live in a craftsman style home built in 1921 on a tree-lined street in Portland, Oregon. There have been times when it seemed small for our family of six, but we’ve made it work. We never opted for a larger house in the burbs. We’ve aimed to live a fairly simple life and for us being in an old neighborhood, a short commute from my husband’s job has worked well.

Within walking distance, at the end of our street, are restaurants, coffee shops, and specialty stores. Our youngest attends high school not far away. We know all of our neighbors—some for the last twenty-three years.

I’m very grateful for what God has provided.

Except during the holidays.

No, that’s not true! I’m very grateful for what God’s provided all the time, especially around the holidays . . . It’s just that I find myself thinking about the Amish kitchens I’ve seen (and the ones I’ve created in my mind and included in my stories!). Granted, I’m generalizing, but some Plain homes do have huge kitchens with long dining room tables, large enough to seat entire extended families. Some of the homes with their open floor plans host both church services and weddings, with ease.

We’ll never host a wedding or a church event larger than a small group meeting in our home, but last Christmas we hosted twenty for dinner. This Thanksgiving we hosted twenty-five, which meant a table in the dining room, one in the living room, and two in our (mostly) finished basement. It works.
It all works.

But I have fantasies of, after the kids have all left home, knocking out the walls of a first-floor bedroom and expanding our dining room and living room into one central gathering area. (However, whenever I mention the idea my husband gets nervous. There seems to be an issue of a supporting wall . . . or something like that . . .)

I joke that everyone has to walk sideways during holiday gatherings at our house, especially through our galley kitchen, but I’d much rather be crowded than not be together. And that’s the bottom line. Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, and my ninety-year-old father don’t mind the tight space, and I’m just thrilled to have us all in one place—even if it is at four different tables.

What do gatherings look like at your home? How do you accommodate your guests? What are you most thankful for this holiday season?



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Photo taken at Menno-Hoff Amish/Mennonite Information Center, Shipshewana, Indiana

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Leslie Gould (33 Posts)

Leslie Gould is the award-winning author of fifteen novels, including the #1 bestseller and Christy Award winner "The Amish Midwife", co-written with Mindy Starns Clark. Her latest release is "Adoring Addie", a retelling of the “Romeo and Juliet,” the second in The Courtships of Lancaster County series. Leslie, her husband, Peter, and their four children live in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at Leslie received her master of fine arts in creative writing from Portland State University in 2009 and has taught fiction as an adjunct professor at Multnomah University. She, her husband, Peter, and their four children live in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at


  1. The best thing about a small house is that it’s always cozy!

  2. Charity, I agree! And warm!

  3. I always love gathering at your house. Glad you had a ful Thanksgiving.

  4. heatherhappy says:

    I’m thankful to live in my aunt’s home in a nice neighborhood with nice neighbors. I’m thankful that God has been providing for my needs even in tough economic times and that I’ve never gone hungry!!! He provides so gloriously for me 😉 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of CAlifornia, Heather 🙂 🙂

    p.s. I LOVE craftsman style homes. They’re full of character and style 🙂 🙂

  5. Hey ~ I’ve been there :)..the evening of a horrific ice storm,…we should have stayed the night!. It’s a wonderful house. I love your sentiment. We had 20 for dinner but it’s back to quiet now.

  6. I never feel crowded at your house Leslie, only loved.

  7. Thank you for all the sweet comments. 🙂 Alyssa, thank you for the memory of that ice storm! That was something! We miss you and Jonathan… And Holly and Laurie, I treasure all of the gatherings you two are part of. I’m very blessed with great friends and family.

  8. I have this issue all the time. Yesterday I fit 9 around my table that seats 6. On Thanksgiving I brought in another table and we crammed into my small kitchen. I’ve dreamed for years of building a dining room over our garage. I’d have a huge table and a big hutch for pretty dishes for said table. And a huge picture window that looks toward the mountains. That’s the dream for the last 25 years. lol

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