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The Christmas Tablecloth Story

My dad and I teach Religious Education as co-teachers. Every year at Christmas time we like to have the students complete a project they can take home with them. Most of the time we have them make Nativity scenes. Once we had them color tablecloths.

This year we are teaching two different classes. They needed a third grade teacher, and Dad agreed to teach third grade. I stayed with second grade. This year I had my student make a Nativity as usual. My dad decided to have his students color religious Christmas tablecloths. He ordered them from a company, Esty. Etsy made a mistake, and sent three secular tablecloths. They could not be used in class. Dad called them and they “made it right” by sending the correct cloths. They also allowed us to keep the secular table cloths sent to us by mistake.

When it came to the two religious tablecloths, my dad and I took them to our religious education classes on December 19th along with a Nativity to color. My student worked on the Nativity, while Dad’s two students colored their tablecloths. We also brought snacks (cookies, apple juice and water) for a break. I had two containers of crayons carefully sorted out for the two students coloring their cloths so they'd have a nice variety for coloring. We got lucky and the organist happened to stop by for practice. She played Christmas carols that went well with the class. It helped add to the atmosphere. The children’s parents helped with the coloring. Father Dominic stopped by, and blessed the tablecloths and Nativity. He said a little prayer over them. I thought it was very nice. The Nativity was completed and the tablecloths were taken home to be finished. I felt that the class went well, and that the students would have nice products when they were done coloring their projects.

We had three extra table cloths. I happen to have an aunt and uncle that my parents have lunch with regularly. Their two children (my cousins) are grown, and they now have young children of their own. My dad took two of the tablecloths along to the restaurant, and had my aunt and uncle give them to my cousins for their kids to color. The third table cloth my family is coloring. We work on it for about forty-five minutes most nights. During the day on Thursday, I spent a great deal of extra time coloring it. Coloring the cloth harkens me back to when I was a kid, and is relaxing for everyone in this busy season.

As children, on Christmas Day my brother, Davy and I would receive many gifts that needed to be put together. Sometimes it was putting pieces together; other times it involved adding decals. With some gifts, both needed to be done. My parents were also busy preparing an elaborate Christmas meal for dinner. It was good, though it took time to prepare. Davy and I needed to wait to play with some of our new toys. For Christmas of 1990, a new tradition was started. That year I received new Crayola markers for Christmas. I got several different types. They were each wrapped up separately, and placed in a green carrying container with a handle.

The tradition was as follows: my parents taped sturdy white paper from a roll onto the table where we were to eat. Davy and I would decorate the tablecloth by drawing on them with markers. I would draw roads, railroad tracks, trains, cats, and trees. Davy would draw a dog. Christmas themed items were also drawn such as Christmas trees. I would draw a pine tree, and draw Christmas lights on it. This activity kept us occupied and happy while my parents were preparing dinner. We placed a clear plastic tablecloth over top to preserve it. In the years to come we would continue to design these Christmas tablecloths. My grandparents helped sometimes, and in 1993 everyone at a family Christmas party held at our house helped decorate a tablecloth and signed their names. I remember my cousin’s wife drew a picture of her cat, Jessica.

As a child, I thought decorating the tablecloths was fun, and enjoyed doing it every year. The tradition stopped after moving to our current location.

It’s interesting how things change over the years. Recently we started coloring this extra Christmas tablecloth, and it made me think of the ones from years ago. There are some major differences. This time my parents and I were the ones working on it as Dave lives in Taiwan. Instead of using markers, we used mostly crayons, but also some colored pencils. Instead of decorating a blank piece of paper by drawing on it, we colored a premade tablecloth. An interesting note is that I still colored the trees. There were a number of pine trees on the cloth, as they were Christmas trees. Back in the day, I drew plenty of trees on it including Christmas trees. This time I colored every tree on the cloth. I also did a lot of my coloring with green crayons since green is my favorite color. Often, I used green and red to make the items look Christmas-y. I tried to use some other colors so that the whole cloth wouldn’t be green. The tablecloth was for my whole family. Some items did lend themselves to be other colors such as the stars (normally yellow), and candy canes which often are red and white.

So, coloring the tablecloth was a nice trip down memory lane though it did have some major differences. I believe we will have a nice product when finished, which should be covered with a clear plastic tablecloth to preserve it. With all the time spent on it, I wouldn’t want it to get messed up. If anyone ever wants to take time out of their busy schedule during the Christmas season to relax, coloring a Christmas tablecloth may be the way to go. Whether spending forty-five minutes many evenings as I have done, or a smaller period of time over the course of more days, it’s a good way to relax and wind down in the evening!

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