Last night, I replaced my plum-colored tablecloth with a plaid tablecloth from our dining room cabinet. Plaid tablecloths are fantastic because they can easily be centered on a table, using the lines from the plaid pattern, they hide food stains, and complement most decorating styles. Most importantly to me, I have a long history with this particular tablecloth.
I bought it when I was still in college at San Francisco State University, some seventeen years ago at the Ross on 4th and Market streets downtown. It has seen many Thanksgiving meals with friends, dates with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, Daniel, and all the homes I’ve lived in since I moved to San Francisco. Whenever I unravel the tablecloth onto my table and smooth it out, all these memories flood back, and I think of all the memories to be made in the coming year. It’s the same feeling I get when pumpkin-spice-everything comes out.
This one plaid tablecloth gave birth to my obsession with tablecloths.
As I think back to the memories associated with the plaid tablecloth, I often wonder what led me to purchase it. I didn’t own the dining table I shared with my college housemates. I was hardly home; when I wasn’t in school, I was working full-time at a downtown Starbucks. I ate most of my meals at school or nearby restaurants. Eating a home-cooked meal was a treat, and I think eating a meal on a tableclothed-table was a treat, too.
Using a tablecloth during a special meal or even an everyday meal gave me a sense of space in a place that I otherwise had to share. The plaid tablecloth was also one of the few items that has traveled with me because I figured I could always use a tablecloth for a dining table.
Speaking of the dining table, it’s the first thing I think to decorate for any holiday or occasion. A colorful tablecloth is the easiest way to decorate our apartment with something that’s practical. It protects our wood dining table from scratches and stains, it’s easy to store and allows me to indulge my inner interior decorator.
My favorite places to score new tablecloths are Ross, Home Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, and, once in a great, while William Sonoma. I keep a large plastic bin with out-of-season tablecloths tucked high in my daughter’s bedroom closet and rotate them to our dining room closet twice a year. In as much as I would like to change up our apartment décor with each season and holiday (much to the chagrin of my husband), we just don’t have the closet space to store all the pillows, knickknacks, and vases I want (with the exception of Christmas décor and our fabulous seven-foot tree). My special tablecloths are easy enough to store and bring an air of festivity all year round.
As my little family enjoys cookies and milk on this plaid tablecloth while I write, I am still in awe of the fact that this tablecloth has been one of the few things that has accompanied me from college. While fashion, and sometimes friends, have come and gone in my life, this piece of fabric has not. It is a little piece of my history, one that reminds me that sharing a home-cooked meal with loved ones every day is the best treat I could ask for.