Cloth Napkins….I’ll explain shortly
It seems to me that a lot of folks work hard to “make everything perfect” when they have guests over for dinner or a party. I know that I like to attempt that too. Part of it, for me, is wanting my guests to know that their presence is important; that I care enough to “pull out all the stops.” (For those of you who’ve never heard that expression, “stops” control airflow in a pipe organ. Pulling them out increases the volume). When I host an event I want it to be as seamless as possible. I want guests to be relaxed, laugh, talk, and know they’re welcome and loved. That’s great right? Isn’t that what we all want when we have people over?
Unlike those special guests and special occasions, we frequently get a bit lazy when it comes to the people we love the most. We often rush through the time with those we live with. We don’t sit down and really look at each other and talk. We don’t honor the important now. We haven’t figured out how to create peacefulness in our homes. We haven’t figured out how to choose serenity over chaos. We fill every minute with the stuff that we feel we have to do instead of relating to each other in a meaningful way. Don’t get me wrong; I know how challenging it is to be raising a family, be working full-time and be responsible for all the things that are on our “must do” list. I know that it takes effort to prioritize our true priorities!
My Dad died when he was only 67 years old. (He was an amazing person and I’ll share more about him another time.) After Dad’s death, my Mom and I went to dinner every Wednesday night unless I was out-of-town. When my daughter, Sara, moved back to the area she joined us. If my younger daughter, Erin, was home she’d be with us too. Then when Sara’s children, Lauren and Ethan, were born they were part of this routine. Toward the end of her life, at our Wednesday dinners, Mom would always have a drink (maybe a glass of wine or a white russian), she’d eat her dessert (she and Lauren loved anything chocolate!) and she’d take most of her actual dinner home. After all, it wasn’t about the actual meal! Those dinners usually lasted for at least two hours. We talked about everything and nothing. We shared life. She told stories about the past, many of which I knew by heart by that time. She held her great-grandchildren. She laughed. Could I have been using that time to do the work I took home, clean the house, do the laundry, watch TV? Of course. Would I have traded those dinners with Mom for any of that other stuff? Never.
Now, what do cloth napkins have to do with any of this? Contrary to what it seems most people believe, I think that your family and closest friends are exactly the people you should be using cloth napkins for! I know, it’s not as easy as throwing a piece of paper in the trash. I know using real napkins means that you have to wash them. I know that you already have too much laundry to do. (You can, however, simply throw the napkins in the wash with the sheets or towels.)
What if you actually set the table with dishes and glasses and cloth napkins? What if you used those “special occasion” pieces for YOUR most special people? What if you broke one of those Waterford glasses having a sparkling grape juice toast with your grandson? Wouldn’t that be better than having someone give it all away when you’re on the other side? What if you used those precious Irish linens? What if one of them got a huge pasta sauce stain on it? Wouldn’t that be better than letting it sit folded in that blue tissue paper forever? What if you said a prayer of thanks before the meal? What if that prayer of thanks acknowledged the fact that you actually have food to eat and someone to share it with? What if you became purposeful about creating peaceful? And, what if that started in your own home with a humble, white, cloth napkin?