The Holiday Tablecloth

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Today it’s rainy, gray, cold-ish, and gloomy. The only thing that’s keeping me from returning to the bed from whence I arose and covering up my head are the shiny, wrapped Christmas presents in my living room and the promise of Christmas decorating tomorrow.

Well, that and I’ve already made up the bed and, as you know, I’m too lazy to make it up again.

And then there’s a little matter of educating a child, Irish Dance class, and a basketball game at which we simply must cheer tonight.

Therefore, let there be cheer!

You see what I did there? That’s what you call a “play on words”. Cheer. Cheer. Get it?


And now for today’s news:

Yesterday, I noted that this is Holiday Traditions Week. Here’s a good one for you, started by my mother, who happens to know how to sew.

Me? I’m no seamstress at all, so I wouldn’t do it this way. However, I would do it.  If you lack sewing skills, stick with me until the end here.

Each year on Thanksgiving (as noted by the scarecrows and little salt-and-pepper-shaker Pilgrims and Indians), we use this tablecloth. Now, don’t think that, just because we use it on Thanksgiving, you can’t have this tradition for Christmas. Or Easter. Or the Fourth of July. Or Columbus Day. Or household birthdays. Or Fridays.

Heck, have a tablecloth for each holiday if you want. It’s your tradition.

Here’s how it works: each year, each guest signs his/her name in ink pen. Then, after the festivities, Mom embroiders all the names for a given year in a particular color.

Like this:

1998, the first Year of the Cloth, was orange. I don’t know the rhyme or reason to the color scheme. My mom picks it, and I don’t question her judgment. On this.

That was the year I had graduated from college, the first time (there’ve been 3 so far…ugh). The primary-style handwriting was an outgrowth of the fact that I thought I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher.

Boy, was I wrong!

They cry.

And there’s snot. Lots of it.

Uh, no.

As time passed, my signature evolved.  Here’s a sample from my upper-elementary teaching days:

By 2002, I had progressed to cursive. I was teaching third grade and had, obviously, matured quite a bit. Nevermind the fact that my name is five times the size of a normal person’s name. We won’t be discussing the psychological meaning behind this fact.

The tablecloth is a great tradition…for those who can write their names. However, in 2000, we faced a challenge. That was the year the Diva was born and, although she was advanced from the get-go, at 7 months of age the turkey still hadn’t learned how to write her name!

Of all the nerve!

We solved the problem like this:

We drew around her hand and wrote her name in it. These are years one and two.  Then, we transitioned to drawing her hand and letting her write her own name:

And, finally, when we knew we’d be able to make out her name in 30 years, we forsook the hand thing altogether:

At this point, she’s on her own and writing with flair (is there any other way?), and we’ve gone through the hand thing with The Bubbe and are now on to my youngest cousin, Tater, who is the first child to cry over getting his hand drawn.

We did it anyway.

Each year, as we put the tablecloth on the table, we reminiscence about who was there, who wasn’t there, the funny ways people wrote their names, and such. I know the day is coming when some of our members will have moved on to that great holiday table in the sky, and we’ll have such sweet memories to share about them as a result of this tradition.

Oh, and I’m happy to report that, like the children, I have grown up in my signature.

Ignore the silver writing in the top, right corner. That’s my dorky brother-in-law, Cueball.

Now, if you don’t sew, just use a different color Sharpie each year. They come in a rainbow, you know?

Go make traditions!


4 thoughts on “The Holiday Tablecloth

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