The phrase "at the table" is a business term to me. The decision makers are "at the table." CEO, CFO, board members, those who have earned a spot/bought a spot/inherited a spot. But otherwise and in the context of these pictures it means family, friends, celebration, milestones, sharing stories, breaking bread, working to make things nice for others/impress others, and wine!
We play games at the table, create art at the table, share meals at the table, work at the table... I haven't thought about it much before but being at the table is a big part of our lives with our family and friends.
In my house, the table was the only time real conversation took place. We discussed everything from politics, religion, sex, history, psychology, and current events. At holidays, there was the "grown up table" and the "kids table."
When I think of "at the table" there is some notion of the privilege of being there. If you are at the table you are included in the conversation, you have some power, or some perceived power, as opposed to those "not at the table.". The people not at the table want to be at the table, but those at the table don't really care about who is not.
In our research on urban redevelopment, neighbors and activists from the African-American community described their desire to have a 'say' in how the land in question gets defined and what gets built on it as a desire "to be at the table. " When we asked, Facebook friends what the idiom "to be at the table" meant in American English, they said the following things: