Come to the table blog post about Thanksgiving

Come to the Table – The Handmade Touch

Rituals

The photo at the top is of my sister, Helen Faber (Biel), sitting at her birthday table in Brazil.  I believe this was her third birthday, so 1969. It has long tugged at my heart strings as she looks so cute, so sweet, and yet, so alone.  My Dad was an amateur photographer and I think he succeeded in capturing that quiet moment before the din of a table come alive with chatter, laughter and eating.  (Take note of that amazing crocheted table cloth!)

Thanksgiving is coming up here in the United States and I was thinking about how this is a time of gathering for so many. Most of us lead busy lives and the holiday brings people together, for better or for worse. Holidays can be hard for people and sometimes it can be easier and less stressful to just eat alone.

We ate together, at the table, as a family every day for breakfast, dinner and supper (as my Minnesota parents called them). We prayed before eating, talked and laughed and often had devotions at dinner.  My brother and I picked on each other so we sat between Mom and Dad. We had to try everything and yes, remembered the starving children in Africa….  (eye roll…)  A Muslim friend of mine said that they prayed at the end of a meal and I just had to laugh, “You wanted to make sure that the food was good before you gave thanks!”  So many rituals practiced around the world when we break bread…..  How is it around your table?  Tell us in the comments at the bottom of the page!

Here is mine, on a normal day.  The table and hand carved chairs were a great find at a thrift store, handmade oak with extensions that slide out on each end.  A friend of mine owns the house and we have a mission of promoting sustainability, creativity and diversity.  There is folk art and handmade stuff all over the place!  We have three themed bedrooms upstairs listed on Airbnb: Africa, Asia and the Americas.  This table has hosted many fun meals with guests and friends!

 

Green Roof International House Dining Room 2023
Green Roof International House Dining Room 2023

Breaking Bread

These days, I usually eat alone, working on a crossword and listening to an audio book.  But, I enjoy it when there is a sit down meal with good conversation. The extra effort is worth it! And, I like to have cloth napkins, a handmade table cloth, and a nice setting.  I don’t have handmade dinnerware, but I do have several bowls, placemats and other accessories that came with a story. I don’t think a good table has to be fancy, but the stories bring memories of times and places gone by.  I saw the video below, a commercial, during the Covid lockdown and I found it so moving! People who were tied into their inner lives, their technology, and their busyness, stopped and broke bread in an impulsive way, connecting on a new level.  The meal takes place in a hallway, which made me a little nervous, but I love how the ice just melts away:

 

 

There are so many awful things happening in the world and I believe that the most powerful thing we can do is to find ways to connect with our neighbors. Eat together, play together, sing together, make together….  I have a great community online, but it’s important to unplug and to look at someone in the eye, locally.

 

Games

The table also brought us together to play cards and board games.  We still do that when we meet as a family, although that is rare now as we all live far from each other.  But, growing up, we spent hours and hours with each other or with friends, playing cards and talking and laughing and eating ice cream.  My Dad was a chess player and had a few friends come by now and then for a game.  They would seclude themselves from us, at a small table in the living room, with very little conversation.  Here’s a video of Bobby Fisher, a genius my Dad followed.  Such a strange guy…

 

 

Negotiations

“Come to the table” often refers to bringing people together to solve problems.  Politicians and groups who try to resolve difficult issues with groups who do not see eye to eye might use that as a phrase.  “Having a seat at the table” means having a voice that counts, representation.  Many religious traditions use the table as a ritualistic symbol of unity with their spiritual entity, as an altar. For Christians, there is Communion. Jews celebrate Passover with Seder, a special meal.  It can also refer to time or a conclusion, as in “We’re going to table this.”  It’s over.

Size

I found this odd little music video about a table that was sold and then found again at an antique shop. It’s a nothing table, meaning that there is nothing special about it. Small and white, but apparently, loaded with memories. The guy buys it and brings it home, pushing it through an arduous path and then greeted by a whole community who celebrates the return of the table.

 

 

Many cultures don’t even use tables. They eat on the floor. I had many meals at my Muslim friend’s house and they were fun, lively and on the floor.  I found it hard to sit that way as I have joint problems and in this case “the table” was truly imaginary. It doesn’t matter.  What counts is the camaraderie, the sharing and nourishing.

 

Decorating

I knew someone who collected dinnerware sets.  I think he had around 11 sets at the time I knew him and he loved to throw lavish parties with a beautiful table setting.  Beautiful vintage sets are quite easy to find.  Handmade dinnerware can be pricey, but a ceramic artist can be collected, little by little, or just like in big box stores, many artists will agree to create a registry for a wedding. Another friend collected a certain type of stoneware, buying one piece from each artist she admired.  She had a table loaded with bowls and mugs, on exhibit. I really don’t think it matters how someone goes about their decorating scheme. What does make it interesting are the stories and techniques used.  An eclectic mix can be fascinating!

We have a Table Top category where you will find things like placemats, runners, dinnerware, vases, and so on.  Such beautiful work!  Most of our Market items link back to our member shops, either on Etsy or on their own websites.  Click on over to see what is currently available.  I’ll show you a couple of favorites:

 

MayaMam Weavers Cuadritos Placemats with Magenta Napkins
MayaMam Weavers Cuadritos Placemats with Magenta Napkins

 

MayaMam Weavers is a Fair Trade group in Guatemala.  They weave gorgeous runners, placemats, and napkins in many colorways.  These are sturdy, machine washable and will last for many years!  Visit them.

 


ShellyClayspot Ceramics Grouping
ShellyClayspot Ceramics Grouping

 

Shelly is an Israeli ceramic artist who focuses on dinnerware and table top vessels.  She has several different styles and often works on special orders.  She also does pet portraits in clay.   Visit her shop on Etsy.

 


 

Sweetbriar Studio Art Rooster Casserole Dish
Sweetbriar Studio Art Rooster Casserole Dish

 

Suzanne makes all kinds of vessels in clay, often with cute animal figures.  Going to a pot luck?  Her casserole dishes will create a stir!  She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.  Visit her shop on Etsy.

 


 

Laura Lee Burch - Study of glassware, painting
Laura Lee Burch – Study of glassware, painting

 

Finally, let me point you to Laura’s paintings and needle felt work.  She has done several studies of table tops and they would look great in a dining room or kitchen!  That work is in our Wall Art category.  Visit her website.

 


 

What are your thoughts about “coming to the table”?  Do you have any rituals you practice, special decorating styles or fun memories?  Share them in the comments!

From our Market:

The following products are pulled randomly from our Table Top Category.  Go there to see more.


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