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  • Mary Kay

Make an Heirloom Easter Tablecloth for Your Family

Dye your eggs and spill-dye the table cloth, too!

This is not your traditional heirloom tablecloth...but it will become a fun keepsake, for sure. It's a fun and easy egg-dying tablecloth for your family. And, It's something the kids will enjoy making...with all their spills and artwork...and that you can enjoy for many years to come.

For many years we had decorated eggs at Mom's home on Good Friday. It was a day off from school for the kids and some of us took the day off from work to have a fun

time at Mom's with the egg dying and the kids. As small children, Mom would have us dye a few dozen for future egg salad sandwiches. It was a very low-cost way for us to celebrate the holiday. I say VERY cheap since eggs were only a few pennies per dozen from the neighboring farm – not the $5 or more per dozen of 2023. Later the event grew to include grandchildren, greatgrandchildren, nieces and nephews. The tablecloth grew out of this annual event.

You must recognize that this is not an heirloom lace tablecloth or something made out of expensive fabric that some people may think of. Rather, this is an accidental tablecloth that began as a protective covering for Mom’s dining room table while we spilled egg dye and got silly decorating Easter eggs. It’s actually a very low-cost table cloth adapted from an old white flat bed sheet.

Mom was always being protective and hauling something out for the kids to spread out their artwork on, and this was a perfect way for Mom and the kids to decorate Easter eggs.

Well, many years ago, we all began to write little sayings on Mom’s tablecloth, sign our names, draw cartoons and trace our hands. Mom thought the little grandchildren’s writings were super special so she saved the old sheet of a tablecloth, stored it away and brought it out every single year so that we could re-sign and re-date it for the new year of dying eggs. We would chuckle and laugh about what the kids had written the year before and watch everyone try to fit their hands in the tracings from years back. Some would even cut hearts into the tablecloth. Mom never got in the way of the creativity going on in front of her. She would just sit back, smile.

She loved being around all the kids, snapping pictures with her Instamatic, weeks later providing us all with copies of the memories. Mom would leave the cloth on her table for days and even weeks as a way for her to enjoy the memories long after the family event.

But, one year she thought she would clean the tablecloth, not realizing that the dyes were all water soluble. So, with that washing many of the dyes, signatures and artwork were lost. She was heart-broken! From that mistake on, she never ever washed it again. She would lovingly wrap the tablecloth in tissue paper and store it away in

the back of her linen closet.

The earliest date on the tablecloth now is 1993, even though we know the tradition began many years before, with some of the artwork and dated signatures being washed out. The "washout" is even documented on the tablecloth! And, some even listed which kids had missed the egg dying that year.

One thing Mom did which was definitely not in her personality - there were NO RULES about what you write or draw on the cloth. She wanted the kids to be creative and have fun with the project each year. Of course, we all knew to keep our writings and artwork "clean" for her.

When the event came to be too much work for Mom (or Gramma Rain to some of the grandkids and nieces and nephews since her name was Lorraine and many of the littles shortened it to "Rain") to handle the egg dying

tradition and provide the luncheon, she handed the tablecloth to me, with “orders” to continue the tradition. Then the egg dying move to my house each year. You see, Mom was all about family traditions. She still came along to enjoy the fun and listen to the grandkids’ chattering, proud to have everyone around her again. I held the event at my home for many years until I passed it onto my sister’s son and family. They were ecstatic (I think!) to have the heirloom tablecloth. I handed it over with one order passed along from Mom – “NEVER wash this tablecloth!” I’m hoping they continue to carry on the tradition and enjoy the fun.

This tablecloth even traveled one summer to get the signatures again from the Madison part of the family. It was a picnic many of us met for in Memorial Park near the Merrimac Ferry on the Wisconsin River, a few miles north or Madison. The day was made even more memorable because the Oscar Meyer Mobile traveled with us on the ferry. What an event!

If you believe in family traditions, this is truly a fun one that doesn’t cost anything – you just need someone to get it started and to remember to bring out the faded and tattered table cloth every year. Thanks to Gramma "Rain" for beginning a new tradition for all of her children, grandkids and great grandkids.

It’s a wonderful way for your family to “Bake your own Memories!”

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