By Joan Amundsen, Creator of Grandma’s Brag Cloth
We live such hectic lifestyles today that when the holidays approach, we find ourselves swept up with the responsibilities of family life plus the preparation of family festivities. There is all the shopping, cooking, and planning for those big gatherings. And before you know it, the holiday is behind us and we are left with only vague memories. John Lennon said, ”Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”.
However there is a way to save some of those happy memories with the folks who spent them with us.
The year was 1990. My husband and I had recently moved miles away from our growing family. Our children were now starting families of their own. Each family that year made plans to spend Christmas with us. I wanted to do something different, something special that we could all look back upon with memories of the day.
Several weeks before Christmas I began to watch the local fabric shops for extra wide Christmas fabric, the kind that could serve as a tablecloth. I found fabric that had small wreaths printed on it with enough space in and around the wreaths for writing sentiments or whatever the person felt he or she wanted to express.
I purchased Christmas fabric, cut it to fit my extended dining table and hemmed the edges. A quick laundering was given to the fabric to remove any sizing, chemicals or extra dye.
After our Christmas dinner I passed out a couple of pens and told everyone to “write something”.
I wish that you could have seen the looks on all the faces. They couldn’t believe that Grandma was actually allowing them to write on her brand new tablecloth! This was the very first Grandma’s Brag Cloth.
Oh, the stories that those little sentiments told. There were two new grand children that year. Instead of writing sentiments, their footprints were placed on the cloth by painting their feet with acrylic paints and their daddies adding their names. There weren’t too many times that we could all be together after that but when we did, it was all about signing the tablecloth.
In 2012 we were all together once again. Our two ‘new’ babies of 1990 are now 23 years old and our family has increased in number to twenty one people. Everyone that year took time to read all the previous comments that had been written. It brought back some wonderful memories.
You can make a Grandma’s Brag Cloth too. You might even want to consider doing a tablecloth for Thanksgiving. It doesn’t take much work. We used permanent marker pens like the ones used to write on clothing such as Rub-a-Dub pens. For the foot or hand prints we used the acrylic paints that you can purchase in any craft shop. Before laundering the signed and painted cloth, place a piece of scrap fabric over the painted area and press with a hot iron. This will set the paint into the fibers of the cloth and make it permanent.
Wash the cloth as you usually do. We have never lost a foot print or a musing in all these years.
And by the way, make sure you have a camera ready to catch the moment. When you hand the pen to a young child for the first time and tell him to write his name on the cloth, the look on his face is priceless.
Once one of our younger ones decided he had made a mistake. He realized he couldn’t erase it so he scratched it out with the marker and wrote “oops”.
Make a memory. In years to come, you’ll be so glad you did.
Some Selected Christmas Musings
“This is a happy day – God bless us everyone”. ‘90
“I am a father for the first Christmas” Paul ‘90
“Our family is now four. Maybe a fifth in the coming years ” – ‘92
“Ken sat here and made a mess. Happy Holiday”
“Another holiday together and our number keeps growing”
“Another decade. Life has changed but not the love of family”. The 5 K’s 2009
“It is a joyous Christmas. We are all together again”.
“Every family tree has a few nuts. Merry Christmas”.
“We are ALL here together again, the first time since 2008. I know Roy is looking down on us and is with us in spirit. Merry Christmas to all”.
“I’d like to say, on this day my family is full of turkey AND LOVE”
“Kristen Michelle had a wonderful Thanksgiving”
“Happy Turkey Day”
“Happy Thanksgiving, looking forward to Christmas
“Greatest Grandson Robert 11/25/10”
“Until we meet again, my God hold you in the hollow of his hand 11/91 Susan”
“Blessed is a house full of children Susan”
Joan Amundsen has been a free lance writer for over 45 years.