Growing up, my Mom and Dad hosted Thanksgiving. We lived up in a small ranch in Seekonk, MA. With my Dad’s five sisters, their husbands and kids, our home was filled to the brim with family on Thanksgiving Day. As the hosts, my Mom and Dad rearranged and arranged our house for a sit down dinner for anywhere from 40 to 60 people. This involved borrowing tables and chairs from our church, clearing out the everyday furniture, and setting up the seating. One of my favorite preparations was working with my sister to make place cards and arrange the seating. We carefully placed each person knowing that once you sat down to eat, there was no getting up. You had to cozy up and love those you were seated near! Once you were cozied up, then the fun began. My Aunt Pauline directed a group of cousins in the prayer and then, we sang. Yes, every Thanksgiving, we sang Bless This House. Each place setting included the words and you were expected to join in the singing. The prayer and song were the essential prelude to the feast.
Fast forward twenty years and Thanksgiving is now here in our home. I have two cousins whose families still join us. My Mom and Dad and sister travel from MA to CT for the feast and my husbands family gathers with us. We don’t have to arrange or rearrange furniture, nor do we have to borrow tables and chairs from our church. But we continue to make place cards and sing Bless This House. Every year, my girls and I work to create and make different place settings, just like I did growing up. This year, we decided to use black table runner paper. I wrote each name above their china place setting with a few artsy swirls. It was simple with a lighthearted feel. After dinner, people began to gather in the kitchen and family room. It was my brother and sister who asked, “Can we draw and write on this?” “Of course! I was kinda hoping that would happen!” The next thing I knew, all the guests were writing and drawing. As one person got up and another sat down, they would pick up the pen and make their mark. Our place setting had become interactive!
It’s fun to watch traditions continue and it’s even more fun to watch them evolve before your very eyes.