The last time our family table felt full was December 2002. I'll always remember that year as "the blue dish Christmas." It felt very special at the time because my long-term boyfriend proposed marriage through his gift of a ruby and diamond ring. A short time later, the sparkle of that beautiful ring came to reflect a bittersweetness. Little did we know that particular Christmas would be my daughter's last.
When unpacking the Christmas keepsake boxes for decorating our home this year, I came across the snowflake shaped blue velvet boxes we've saved all these years. My mind drifted back to 2006 when I participated in a table decorating contest. The table description summary prepared for the judges' review went something like this.
This table is dedicated to women who make the holidays special. It is inspired by the bittersweetness many people experience during the holidays and is, therefore, represented by the color blue.
A woman teaches her daughter the beauty of a well-laid table. She reflects on the years of happy or sad times while she polishes her silver. She takes an extra moment to remove the last water spot from the crystal. She greets her guests as they arrive from a snowy drive. And her heart sings with joy when her dinner guests share old stories, a good laugh, and delicious meal around her Christmas table.
This table setting is personally bittersweet for me because it was used for the last Christmas dinner before the untimely passing of my 22-year-old daughter. The most precious memento on the table is the blue velvet snowflake box placed at each setting filled with ribbon candy and chocolates. Several years ago, my husband hid a diamond and ruby engagement ring amongst the candy and then patiently waited for me to discover it while a dozen family members held their breath!
My mother-in-law entrusted me with her silverware and blue Wedgwood dishes with the countryside theme. The Bavarian stemware is a gift from generous co-workers. The elegant silver and blue centerpiece is a housewarming gift from my sister.
The fondest memories are from my daughter.
This time of year many of us are missing loved ones at our tables. There is so much table conversation in these final months each year with all the gatherings of our best (or perhaps least) favorite people. Last week's post "The Dad We Know As Might Moe," began at such a table. It is also that time we find ourselves feeling our tables aren't as full as we'd hoped.
The memories of that blue dish Christmas are still bittersweet.
Indeed, it was the last Christmas our table felt full.
How does it feel around your table this time of year? Are you able to find some balance?
Please share your thoughts or memories in the comments below.
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