Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The White Tablecloths

We bought this mountain of tablecloths many years ago when several of our children were getting married in one summer (some of them to each other). “We” were a group of friends, a sort of a village, a virtual small town of moms who had stood by each other while our children were growing. 

These kids were at school together, played sports together, studied together, marched in the band side by side and together scrounged costumes for the beloved, chaotic variety show.

We used our tablecloths one more time this month when our youngest son, Karl, married his sweetheart, Rosa.
Karl and Rosa pose for fun in front of a curtain made from one of the tablecloths

A local party supply store was having a sale. We met there early one morning and bought the things we needed for the upcoming weddings. We don’t know how many tablecloths we bought, but the tub of them is too heavy for one strong man to lift... so... LOTS.   (I also bought 35 white chairs; they were a bit shabby, but buying them was cheaper than renting. I’ve used them at four weddings, showers, concerts and they’ve been borrowed more times by this group of friends than I can count.

Around this time Wendy found some pink, checked, fabric that was gossamer in weave. She made six or seven big tablecloths.  They looked so wonderful at outdoor events spread on round tables over the white tablecloths we’d bought and fluttering slightly in the wind.  We had such a great time every time we used them that we began to call the Magic Tablecloths.  If pink didn't go with the colors of the event, we made squares that did... recalling the original pink Magic Tablecloths.
so great to see former students at Karl and  Rosa's wedding!

We used them for rehearsal dinners, for retirement parties, for receptions after recitals, wedding and baby showers. Once, another friend and I wore them as scarves when we bought lottery tickets trying to win money to give to our school we hoped so dearly to bless. Our white tablecloths were also magic, but they didn't make appropriate scarves. 

The tablecloths were purchased for Dave and Kristen's wedding and used ever since!

Last week, preparing for Karl and Rosa’s wedding, we tried to count how many times we’d used the white tablecloths.  Together we’d spread these white cloths over round and rectangular tables for so many weddings, concert receptions, rehearsal dinners, showers, retirement parties and other happy events. Together, which ever of us had come to help at that particular event, we joined together to create beautiful inviting tables, tables to invite guests to celebrate and enjoy.

our turn to pose in front of the tablecloth 

There’s something we friends enjoy about creating a beautiful party.  One year for a concert reception, we all brought flowers from our gardens.  I remember the gorgeous, full blue blooms of the hydrangeas arranged with bright orange day lilies.  After that, whenever we could, we brought our hydrangeas to summer events. We had to have them.  Once, when the bushes had scant blooms Wendy tucked fake hydrangeas into the branches.  When my mother died, my friends brought their hydrangeas to my kitchen. They used a paper, apple green cloth on my table and arranged a full, blue and purple bouquet on a table full of food for my grieving family and guests.  In life and in death, my friends have gathered close, bringing beauty and comfort with them. Hydrangeas were both beauty and memory of beauty to us. To us they seemed an emblem of our camaraderie.

And if there were no hydrangeas to be had, in the fall or the winter, we joyfully settled for the elegance of roses instead, as we did for Karl and Rosa’s wedding.  

When life happens, these friends gather around to help.  They cook and clean, they decorate and serve.  It is hard to explain how fun it is to work together to make a celebration beautiful and delicious.  It is not a burden; it is a joy.  One of us, Anne, said once, “It’s because beauty makes people feel at home.” Creating beauty and warmth, working side by side in life’s milestones has made our friendships that much more precious to me. It is our way of honoring life and our God who gave life to us. 
any kitchen feels like home, any occasion richer when you have friends standing beside you


  1. What a lovely, lovely post, and a wonderful way to honor both the celebrations you've enjoyed and the support of dear friends.

  2. Absolutely Loved this, Loris! Thanks for the memories you've put in my heart through your gracious giving and living through the AACS years... and thanks for preserving precious memories through your wonderful words in print! You are a blessing. <3