Monday, November 23, 2015


Norman Rockwell, Freedom From Want, 1943.
Everyone knows who Norman Rockwell is.  Icon of Americana.  Powerful title.  I hope this Thanksgiving and the holiday season finds you free from want.  If not, my wishes are that you find what you need.  We have much to be thankful for as Americans.  Let us keep the rest of the world, and especially France, in our thoughts and prayers.  

Hard to believe it's Thanksgiving, ushering in the holiday season. I'm STOKED! Much to give thanks for. A year full of much good in my life. I'm writing this post early this week because of traveling and taking some time off to be with family. By the time this posts (bet right at this very minute), I'm being an irritating smart ass, preaching sacatechism, belly-laughing with my sisters. A least once in the next couple of days I'll hear an endearing "I'm going to knock your head off." Several "DAVID." We will have moments when we will not be able to catch our breath and stomachs will hurt from laughing so hard. Then the kleenex moments. The Richardson Family 5 day Hallmark series.

Even though I'm attending holiday dinner at my niece's. I did get to have some fun in the hustle of  grocery store Thanksgiving madness. Betting there will be several "will you run and get me." In all my sixty years, I've only been in charge of preparing  Thanksgiving dinner once. I pulled it off. Four guests for an entire weekend. I was quite the host. But I'll tell ya, it's a lot more fun being the guest, even though my hostess (sister) can be quite bossy.

Grocery list stapled to paper bag, as it was given to me to fill for a food drive. I followed the list closely, complied as asked.  How unusual. Got it all home, set it on the table.  How am I supposed to get all of this in that little bag? The turkey's so heavy, it would bust through. Holy cow! Frozen turkeys could be used as weapons.  Filled the bag the best I could, dragged the turkey and delivered.

Going to the grocery store is not my idea of fun. WAY too much stuff to choose from.  Twenty different kinds of everything (sizes, brands, gluten-free, low sodium, low fat, etc. etc. etc.). Too many people. Shopping cart rage. Taking it all into the house, not that much fun either.  But if all went perfect, look how much holiday fun we would miss.

Cooking. I can do it, but I don't. But when there are ten people in a five-people kitchen, trying to cook a holiday meal, it's pretty much a blast.  No shortage of laughs, and "the look" (my sisters and niece have that down pat). I have the special finger retaliation.

Setting the Stage

I have set three different tables, using items from the house and my shop.

Since childhood, I have very much enjoyed setting the table.  Don't trap yourself into a mold, unless there are certain traditions. My mother had the pineapple salad bowl, and other dedicated serving pieces.  But the place settings could always be different.

So in making preparations for Thanksgiving, give yourself a little extra time to figure out your table. Look through all your cabinets and about the house and see what you can come up with. Be creative. Don't over crowd the table, leave room for elbows ( Redneck table manners). Use balance and proper spacing ( get out the ruler like on Downton Abby). Of course you have to keep in mind the different courses you will be serving.

Eclectic. Matching place plates, silver overlay butter plates, multi use glasses (wine or
water), cutwork napkins, and my signature Francis I.  Each place setting has its own unique candlestick, bud vase, and salt cellar.  All firmly sitting on the classic Saarinen table.

Started the base of this setting design with painted harvest table. Colorful linen tablecloth and matching napkins circa 1950's, gives the relaxed feeling of a picnic. Much less formal setting. Victorian ironstone milk pitchers with yellow roses anchor the linens. Mismatched silver candlesticks and sterling flatware make things just a little more interesting.  Wonder what the beverages are gonna be? Mugs and shot glasses. Plates are restaurant ironstone from the 1950's.

For the royal majesties. Classic Greek key place plates, Fornasetti butter dishes, Doré bronze candlesticks, Damask napkins.  Adding a twist, blue blown-glass Mexican stemware.  And of course, my signature Francis I.  Table ain't shabby.  Gold overlay bowl centerpiece ( just gifted to me) packed tight with white carnations, was broken and repaired with museum staples. Old repairs with museum staples give me goose pimples.

Hopefully I've sparked your imagination. Mix it up this year. 

I think Norman would have a heart attack. Norman Rockwell's classic reinvented.  Set your table so there's no room for phones and iPads, enjoy mouth-to-mouth communication.

Get out and enjoy the madness of Black Friday. Fight for parking places. Cuss the traffic. Wait to long for a bad lunch. People watch.

Enjoy the holiday weekend. Give thanks. Love your family a little extra. Diet next week. LAUGH!

Wishing you and yours the greatest of Thanksgivings. I'm sure having one. (Positive thinking.  Wrote this last week.)

John Zarra, "The Turkey Blues"

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