A cloth full of memories
Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don´t unravel.
It was an old white sheet discarded and thrown in the back of the linen closet. I was a young mother with two small children and a very small budget. We didn´t have a lot of money for Christmas and we definitely didn´t have money for any elaborate decorations. But I wanted to make something for my family. Something that could be used year after year as a family tradition. I had already handcrafted matching Christmas stockings from red felt appliquéd with Christmas trees, teddy bears, baby dolls and tin soldiers, but I wanted something else for my family. Then I remembered the sheet. Could I possibly use that white sheet to craft a Christmas tablecloth? My sewing abilities were amateurish, but my love for family and tradition was strong. I got out my sewing machine and started hemming the material in red and green thread. I wrote the words "Merry Christmas" in the middle of the tablecloth and spread it across the dining room table. I was so proud!
My daughter was two and a half and my son was only seven months, but I wanted to include them in this tradition. I traced their little hands and feet on the cloth, wrote down their names, ages and the date and then I penned a message for my family. I told them how much I loved them, wished them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I signed my name and wrote down the date.
Now, over thirty years later that tablecloth is full of messages, greetings, small handprints from my children and grandson Layton, large handprints and food stains. Each message is precious and contains sentiments of love, cute poems, and comical sayings. Four years ago I had to add a white border to allow more room and it´s already filled with words from family and friends.
As I sit down to look at each handwritten message, my eyes tear as I come across signatures from my precious mother Bonnie, my stepfather Joseph, my friend´s daughter Lindsay, my aunt Olyne, my sweet cousin Karen, all gone but never forgotten. I see the small handprints of my two children and grandson and I remember the day that I traced around their little hands for the first time. I see the messages they wrote as small children, silly teenagers and young adults. I read about snowstorms, cold weather, pecan season, new bikes, new love, old friends and departed loved ones and I remember. I see how my writing has changed as I´ve gotten older, the scribbles of young children and the squiggly drawings they made when I wasn´t looking. All the messages are impo rtant and treasured as each one signifies a part of their lives and a journey into mine.
I realized after I made the tablecloth, in fact many years later, that this tablecloth can´t be divided into squares. Some of the signatures are written so close to one another that if cut apart, a word or two would be lost forever. I know this tablecloth is old, stained and ugly, but it´s full of love and laughter and is a priceless heirloom to me. I look forward to digging it out each year, spreading it out on the table and sitting down to read and remember. I enjoy writing my message each year—it really never deviates. I ask for God´s blessing, good health, happiness and a wonderful new year. I savor each written word from my family and friends knowing that one day most of the messages written will be from loved ones gone but never forgotten. This old white sheet has been transformed into a beautiful gift from that young mother, me, who only wanted a tradition for her family, a simple tablecloth full of memories.
Glenda Carol Lee
Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Amy Newmark
Chicken Soup for the Soul – Christmas Magic
Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, 2010