The grandmother of my children, Mom-mom Roche could feed an army within an hour’s notice. No one ever went hungry in her house. The warmth that is shared around her table is legendary – wonderful food, prayerful gratitude and lots of laughter.
On special occasions, she would dress her table in a fine linen cloth. Over 50 years ago, she started to ask her dinner guests if they would sign her tablecloth. Later, in her spare time (how she ever found a spare minute with 7 children, 21 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren), she would hand embroider their signatures. The next time you saw the tablecloth, the last signature would be stitched – she never missed a single autograph.
It became a rite of passage for all family members. I remember seeing toddlers finger the embroidery and ask when they could sign but Mom-mom wouldn’t let them scribble a few dashes and dots. Oh no, they had to actually hold the pen and sign their name. The anticipation was about all they could handle. They would watch an older child sit at the table next to Mom-mom and sign. Usually, a tongue was sticking out of the child’s mouth as he or she focused fiercely on the task. Oh the pressure! Not really, Mom-mom has a heart of gold and hugs to match.
My children, now in their 20s remember the day they were asked to sign. Not the same day, mind you, because Janelle is two years older than Ted so Ted had to wait his turn. They loved the ceremony of it and when visit Mom-mom they always examine the tablecloth looking for their own signatures, those of the newest family members and those who have are no longer with us.
Mom-mom has passed this tradition to her grandchildren. When Janelle was married last year, she gave her a hem-stitched linen tablecloth for Janelle’s table along with her blessing to update the tradition to today’s lifestyle. No longer will the signatures be hand embroidered, instead guests will sign a piece of paper, Janelle will photograph it and send it to me. I will then load it as a backdrop into Perfect Embroidery Pro digitizing software and digitize the signatures.
I’m honored to carry on this tradition for Janelle even if some of the nostalgia is lost in the process. She will have a stitched memory of a tradition from her childhood that she can pass down to the next generation.
Today, I started with family members who attended Janelle and Kegan’s wedding reception. (Yes, I know that was last summer!) In a new file in Perfect Embroidery Pro, I loaded the image as a backdrop (File/Load Backdrop).
Then I traced each line in same manner as the letters were written.
As tempting as it was to smooth curves and straighten lines, I forced myself to just follow the lines. After all, it’s a signature not a lesson in calligraphy.
What an enjoyable task – as I digitized each name I focused on that person, so many memories come flooding through my mind. It’s like I was spending time with them – all part of the gift!
Do you have any family traditions like this? If so, I’d love to hear about them.