Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Table Cloth

Fifteen years ago, I put a taupe colored
twin sheet and a set of sharpies
on my Thanksgiving table.

At that time,
our family consisted of just our two boys
and the baby girl kicking around inside me.

My goal was to have everyone in attendance
sign the table cloth with just their name
and a sentiment of the holiday
and then repeat that process every year
until the cloth was full.
I had no idea what a cherished thing
this table cloth would become.

There are signatures on our table cloth
from people whose paths crossed ours,
people who shared a meal and a holiday with us,
people we love and remember with a smile,
people who were only in our lives for a season
and signed our table once
and people who are still present at most of
our holiday meals whose signatures can be seen
over and over again.

There are signatures from people who are
no longer with us on this earth,
leaving behind an outline of their hand
and a few words of kindness.

On the years when our holiday table only had
five or six chairs,
that table cloth reminded us
that we were connected to so many other people
who loved us
even from afar.

If one were to take the time
to read all of the messages on the table cloth
one would find words of longing
from years when David was deployed
and then joyous words written on holidays
when he had returned.

One would read well wishes sent to far flung family
and words of gratitude for
a full house of celebrators.

There are expressions of welcome
to new family members
and warm wishes from old friends.

That table cloth holds fifteen years of life,
love, family and friends.

Some of the words bring tears to my eyes.
There is an entry from Zachary
when he was about 9 years old
that says, "I love the Lord"
and there is a tiny outline of Madison's little baby hand.

There is a message from my dear friend Trudy
that was written a lifetime ago
about the pain of being separated,
but the joy of memories held close to our hearts.

Some entries make me smile
like the year we signed our name
making it known that we were
the first place winners of the neighborhood
Christmas decorating contest
and the many signatures of kids that we love so much
who are now grown up
with little ones of their own.

This table cloth is more than a tradition for me.
It is evidence of a life of togetherness
and being connected
no matter where we were in the country.
Evidence that time flies and
we cannot hold any one thing forever.
Evidence that change is inevitable and is much easier when
gratefully accepted.
Evidence that all things really do work out for good
and that too much time is wasted on fear and doubt.
Evidence of family in the form of friends who we
shared our lives with over the years
and evidence of friends in the form of family
with whom we share a heritage.
It is a reminder that we were never alone
even when we felt like we were.
A reminder that we have led and are leading
full lives,
and that what matters most in this life
is opening yourself up
to others and fully embracing them
while you have them.
Whether they sign your table cloth or
leave love notes on your heart,
the friends and family
that God places in each of our lives are
precious, precious gifts!


Anonymous said...

Becca...that is so beautiful! What a great tradition!

With friendship,

Nancy @ dream it ... build it! said...