fine dining with grandaughters

When a trio of granddaughters began visiting more frequently, I went to yard sales and loaded up on Disney water glasses, Garfield mugs and Kelloggs cereal bowls for them to use. They fought over who covered Snap, Crackle and Pop with Cheerios and whose turn it was to drink Kool-Aid with Snow White. But, as the girls have grown up those arguments wane as the girls have uncovered the much bigger variety of dishes and table linens in my other cupboards.
These granddaughters LOVE to prepare our table for a meal.

I should have realized it when they began squabbling over whose turn it was to choose the tablecloth, or  heard a hint when one broke into tears because she wanted the stemmed water glasses.

I did not ‘get it’ until the day the oldest climbed up on the counter, opened the overhead cabinet and began taking out my delicate blue, flowered china plates. When I spotted her precarious perch, I held up my hands for the dishes and directed her to a safer method.

These grade schoolers delight in a fully dressed table. With each child having her own preference in colors and dish patterns, winning the allotted title of table setter of the day means claiming all the honor for preparing the evening’s ambiance.
They are too short to reach more than the bottom shelf, yet tall enough to spy the tip-top shelf of special tablecloths and goblets reserved for special meals and move them all to the table. Initially, I silently gasped when they wanted to use the really nice table cloths, napkins, goblets and dishes I had picked up at yard sales.

Over time the accessories have increased. First, it was just the cloth covering the table, then one found the cloth napkins and a few days later another found the flower vases stuck way, way up above the stove. Suddenly, we have stalks of azaleas gracing our table at every meal. We eat in style – if not in season.

Recently, quick little eyes discovered the expensive Christmas embroidered cloth I bought at a department store several years ago. I usually starch and iron its yards of cloth before draping it neatly across the extended table for a carefully prepared holiday meal with returning children and their families.

A princess spied it the other day as we prepared to sit down to a spaghetti supper. She wanted to use it. I looked at that tablecloth. I thought about how much I spent on it and the matching napkins. I reflected on the years I have had it, how few times we had used it – and how long it might be before we have that many people at the house again for Christmas. I took a deep breath, reached up and pulled it down for our spaghetti supper. I tucked the extra longs ends under and they sat down with eyes sparkling in delight. One liberally sprinkled it with red sauce. I showed her how to douse the spots with Spray and Wash before we set it to soak in the washing machine.

They have pulled that cloth out a couple times since then. Their faces shine with the importance of having a fancy table for a simple meal. Soon enough, they will yawn at the idea of setting the table with anything. For now, I host grandchildren seated around a table laid with fine linen and china eating suppers of hot dogs, hamburgers and potato salad.