Creating unconditional love on cardboard, as if that’s possible


Creating a senior table for him was an act of love.

Wednesday night, on the eve of high school graduation, moms and dads filled the gymnasium for a shining gesture. With Herculean effort, we decorated senior tables for our offspring. I know because I was among those parents attempting, in some impossible way to contain love on a 30″ x 30″ plot of space. Talk about pressure!

For weeks I had been staging Aaron’s table at home. With two children graduating nine days apart in two different states, I had to start early to make sure it was good.

In 2008, Nate had a senior table and Aaron deserved for me to put in the same painstaking effort. In my practice sessions, sometimes I’d tape a picture in one place on the cardboard and then move it elsewhere. A few of my table prototypes were created actually in Aaron’s room so he would see them when he came home from school. I’d anticipate the moment when Aaron would enter.

Yes, I said to myself, hopefully he will not collapse upon seeing its beauty.

Truly, I speculated, he will notice how I angled the ukelele JUST so,

put the candle HERE,

Oh how I adored seeing a classmate write encouraging words to my boy, such loving messages filled these pages.

the coffee cup THERE

and the tiny bell from Ukraine on THIS spot.

And when Aaron would walk into his room, my ear would keen for the slightest gasp of wonder. If a second passed without a response, I couldn’t stand it any longer. “Aaron, what do you think?” I’d beckon so desperate for his approval. Without exception Aaron showed his gratefulness. Whew. Other times, you know, just in case a friend stopped by and you never know when that just might happen, I would do the whole set-up in the dining room and dare I admit, I’d walk down the stairs several times just to get a glimpse afresh.

Senior pic taken by his aunt.

As the mama of three OS, for me with no other girl in my household, it was the equivalent of seeing a daughter in a wedding gown or a prom dress. Don’t laugh. I felt joy. The Hubs found other versions of the table in his office or in the hallway. Some family members were even blessed with text messages and pictures from me marking a new table development concept. A few were kind enough to acknowledge receipt of those pictures. Oh thank you if you indulged me! I sewed a swatch of remnant material from his books pants fabric. Aaron approved.

Then I stitched a coordinating rectangle of some extra fabric a friend had given me. Aaron liked the manly colors. He assisted my efforts by writing in gold a poem from his favorite author William Cowper and I trimmed the sides of the cardboard with pages from an old family Bible.

It wasn’t perfect but the time had come for the official unveiling. Insecure feelings never replaced the warm and wonderful sentiment I felt inside.

But I bet I wasn’t the only one who spent copious amounts of time on the child’s senior table project; based on what I saw, our collective souls were poured onto those hallowed folding tables.

We did not create altars for our children, I guess we just wanted our son or daughter and all who passed by to smile and either say, “Wow, I am loved” or “Awesome, someone thinks very highly of that kid.” If you think this post is stupid, then we probably couldn’t be friends. If you’ve read this far, you understand. Let’s have lunch.

Thursday arrived and tears flowed as we all beamed.

I had been crying throughout the day but vanity aside, I had to get a picture of me by Aaron’s table.

I gazed and cried stopping by many of Aaron’s friend’s tables. I noted with appreciation that none of these tables felt ostentatious as if they were trying to steal attention from someone else.

The body of Christ enveloped the mood. With our individual 7 1/2 square feet carefully crafted, the seniors marked the passage of time. I paused with gratitude over the families represented and prayed for their children’s future.

Have you ever done something like for a loved one? What special things would hallmark your “table”? I’d so enjoy hearing about it. May you all have opportunity for such a celebration of life.

After graduation, Aaron spent a long time reading the messages. What a thankful moment for all of us.

Questions: How do you handle the desire to be perfect with the reality that you’re not? What do you do when you feel competitive with other people and struggle with inadequacy?

4 thoughts on “Creating unconditional love on cardboard, as if that’s possible

  1. What a precious tradition at CCS! I didn't know. My daughter is just finishing kindergarten there and will be a BIG FIRST GRADER in the fall. I hope they put pictures of these tables in the year book so that I can see them.I'm a blogger too. Nice to meet you.And trust me, I'd be just as crazy about my daughter's table!Love,Beth

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