Home » a penny for my thoughts » Tablecloths: I’ve heard they tell stories.

Tablecloths: I’ve heard they tell stories.

20140506-073654.jpg. The entire eating at the “table” thing is so full of ritual and tradition.

Today, the master of ceremony for this discussion will be the tablecloth.

The tablecloth is not simply a cloth thrown over a slab of wood or metal. It is a covering, protective and decorative and sets a mood or season with its multiplicity of functions.

Lace or plain, cotton or wool, full of color and pattern or just plain white, this woven piece of threads sets a mood; a mood for the people who will gather round its girth for a meal or a snack or even wine and conversation.

In the photo, top shelf and bottom cloth: rose colored Apples on a cream background, it’s a durable cotton; this I like to use in the late summer when apples are on everyone’s mind. I think of trips to Cynthia’s farm and Mama’s apple strudel and Grama’s apple pizza! Harvest is in full swing and Autumn is in the air when this cloth is on the table!

Second cloth from the bottom; a faded aqua background with a rusty toile pattern. This cloth is versatile and always delightful; country French and makes me think of Grama Thibault and her mother, Celine Tetrault. Celine was a single mother (never found out what happened to Grama’s father) who owned a Millinery in Quebec. The story goes like this: whenever the day was going slow and sales were shabby, Celine would turn her statue of St. Joseph upside down until a sale was made! Tough French little lady for sure.

Third from the bottom; a navy and white stripe background with cherries bordering the hem; great for any summer event, patriotic and picnic-ish for sure. I think of Karen and Janet Szachta, old friends and neighbors from my childhood. They had a cherry tree and every year gave Mama a bucket full of cherries! Then Mama would make Danish pastry for all of us to share! What a treat!

Then one of my favorites is the green and white HERB tablecloth depicting fresh herbs used in so many good Italiano recipes; takes me back to old days and Tuscan vineyards. Reminds me of all my Aunts who made so many celebrations extra special with their delicious cooking skills!

Then there are the solid linen tablecloths in white and pastels; also good for any occasion. Lace trimmed tablecloths are for special days or special meals. Lace always adds a touch of the “sacred” to the table. The pink pastel cloth was given to me by my mother-in-law who used it on very special occasions. It was given to her by a cousin who worked as a “waiter” on a train. When the train closed its dining car the tablecloths were SHARED with the employees…at least that’s how the story goes. Now it is a treasure and I use it as a topper over a plain white cloth on Mother’s day.

The bottom shelf holds Fall coverings and Holiday cloths…need I say more. My favorite is the Christmas tablecloth Mama made for a Christmas eve many years ago. She appliquéd Christmas trees all around its border. Always a hit with the kids….and for everyone young at heart.

This morning I opened an old cupboard door (which is where I store my tablecloths) to put away Sunday’s washed and folded linens. Sauce stains and Jello spills and even wax drippings come out with washings and time. However, some things will never wash out of tablecloths. Memories will not fade in their color.
Greetings from old and dear, dear friends will always remain in their woven threads.


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