Today the poker table sits in my study at home. The pad on top has been removed, and the cushions are recovered in a deep blue more fitting to my study. The days of it serving as a gaming table are long over, though occasionally it hosts a game of Euchre or Yahtzee as a fire blazes nearby. Now it more often sees men enjoying one of Miriam’s breakfasts as we study and pray, counseling sessions with hearts opening up about their pain and struggle, or numerous books spread across it as I study, write, or prepare another sermon.
The table sat in the back corner of my parents’ large family room, surrounded by the paneled walls and sitting on the shag carpet so prevalent in the seventies. Seated on a wood base, the octagonal top had a vinyl pad with felt underneath to protect the wood. Four low-set wooden chairs, with oatmeal colored padded backs and seats for cushions, were set on caster wheels that did not function all that well on the shag. Though occasionally we used the table for a game or snack, its greatest use seemed to be for Dad’s poker games.
A teenager, in those days I was sent to bed just as the beer and snacks were put out and Dad’s friends arrived, but before the real action started. Lying in bed, the laughter, rattling of poker chips, and smell of cigar smoke would float down the short hallway to my room. Curiosity would often get the best of me, so I would occasionally sneak out of my room and peak around a corner, just able to see Dad’s jovial face enjoying the company of his buddies around the poker table.