Country Kitchen: Table Cloth Memories

Country Kitchen: Table Cloth Memories
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As I placed the red and green tablecloth on our table for holiday meals, I thought of the numerous family gatherings at my mother-in-law's home when it decorated her trestle table (the one we now have in our dining area). Mum enjoyed making her table festive with an appropriate table cloth and pretty dishes.
A table cloth from my childhood was the white lace one Mother received as a wedding gift. For holiday meals and occasions when guests arrived, she placed this on the large dining room table. Often it covered a colored table cloth for festive effect.

When I discovered a light blue napkin with white floral design, I remembered Mother using these for dinners when guests joined us. The napkins might accompany the lace table cloth over white damask or simply the damask one. She also had similar light green napkins for a change of pace.

The covering for our farmhouse kitchen table was an "oil cloth." It was cut from a roll at the general store and used and scrubbed until the design faded. Then it was time to get another piece of oil cloth. What fun to see what design Mother chose this time.

Collectible Table Linens

Table cloths, napkins, and placemats have become collectibles. Often they might be some saved from our childhood. Others we find in antique shops and at auctions. They remind us of our youth or early marriage years. Or we may simply find them attractive and want to acquire for our own use.

It's become fashionable today to use these older linens to decorate our tables and to brighten our dining rooms. Sometimes they remind us of stories of childhood. Other times they're creating new memories for our children and grandchildren.

Treasured Memories

I have a set of placemats a friend made and sent me as a wedding gift 43 years ago. Another attractive set is one our daughter stitched for me as a Christmas gift after she was newly married. She also created napkins to match and found napkin rings so I'd have something attractive for my husband's and my meals.

Sometimes your treasured placemats will be those your youngsters make at school...colorful pictures their teachers laminate for them to give as gifts.

What Are Your Memories?

What are your table covering memories? You may not have the actual object to use, but a glimpse of one in a magazine or stop will bring back fond memories of family times together.

Then make your own memories today for future generations to enjoy.

Food Memories, Too

What foods did your family serve when using these table adornments? What recipes are you creating for your family?

For our festive family meals, my daughter often makes her favorite PISTACHIO SALAD. This is quick and easy to prepare and can be served as a dessert if you prefer.

Mix together in large serving dish: one 3-oz. package instant pistachio pudding (dry), one 8-oz. container whipped topping, one 20-oz. can crushed pineapple, 1/2 cup maraschino cherries and 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts.

Variations: Recently she tried it with the sugar free instant pudding and it turned out well. I prefer the salad without the marshmallows, but most people like them included. Also, if your family doesn't like nuts or maraschino cherries, you can leave either of these out.

Article (C) 2004 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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