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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Christmas Angel Table

Thursday, December 29, 2016

This year's Christmas Day table setting had been in my mind for several months beginning with the sale of my late mother's house in Alabama. Mother loved angels. She had a set of four angel salad plates she displayed year-round in her china cabinet. When and how she acquired those plates are vague in my memory. I think I gave them to her many years ago. They are part of Mother's things that I kept when we settled her estate.  

The four angel salad plates were the start of this year's Christmas Angel Table. 

Sunshine streamed in through the sunspace onto this year's Christmas Day angel table setting. Mother's last Christmas at my house was in 2012, and it snowed on Christmas Day that year. Winter in north Texas varies from mild years like last winter to the freezing, snowy winter of 2010. 

The dark blue backgrounds of the salad plate centers coordinate with the Renaissance Blue Fitz and Floyd dinner plates found at a once-in-a-lifetime warehouse sale in Dallas. 

Fitz and Floyd was moving its warehouse from near downtown Dallas to another section of Dallas farther from downtown in the mid-1980s. A friend saw a small ad in the Dallas newspaper for the Fitz and Floyd warehouse sale and invited me to go with her. Pallet after pallet of dishes sat on a bare concrete floor. Sugar bowls, creamers, gravy boats with under plates, and soup bowls were $5 each. Plates, salad plates, bread plates, berry bowls, cups/saucers varied from $2-$5 each. This was a real warehouse sale in which employees continuously carted out more dishes in scores of patterns in order to sell as much as possible to keep from moving it. 

The four salad plates have four different patterns of angels playing musical instruments. My maternal grandmother played the fiddle by ear. She played country music in the style of Grand Ole Opry. 

Both my sister and I played the flute in our high school's marching band. We learned to play using musical scores, not by ear. In college, I took a woodwind class to fulfill some of the fine arts' hours required for all students for graduation. One year I played in a faculty orchestra as part of the school's Christmas program during the school day. My sister played in a community orchestra for several years in New Hampshire as an adult. Visualize concerts in a gazebo, in a park, and in a church. 

A clear glass angel from Pottery Barn was the first part of the table's centerpiece to go with the angel salad plates. Mother saw me admiring this angel while we were shopping together, and it was under the Christmas tree that year. 

The main feature of the table's centerpiece is a clear and blue-tinged cloche from my sister. She collects cloches. For her to give me this one is very special. 

A band of blue is the perfect shade of blue to go with the blues in my house. The top part of the cloche is clear allowing a preserved boxwood ball in a crystal glass to be visible.

Vintage French silverplate forks serve as card holders. I find it remarkable that just one item can set the tone for an arrangement. A lone Christmas card is all that's needed to add Christmas cheer to the table.

While one Christmas tree card is all that's needed to say, "Christmas," whimsical bottle brush tree drink stirrers add even more Christmas cheer to each place setting. 

Don't you love finding little touches in unexpected places on a table? Who thinks of these kinds of fun things to create? Whoever it is, Target seems to find their work. Each year there are always fun, reasonably-priced things at Target. I still have a beautiful oval Christmas gift box with a fun Santa painted on the top of the lid that came from Target many years ago.  

Angels... appear where you least expect them. More than once in my life I am convinced an angel in the form of an ordinary person helped me when I really needed something during a stressful time... a kind word, a thoughtful deed, a smile, a helping hand, an encouraging remembrance... 

Christmas Day is one of mixed emotions for me, especially when it falls on a Sunday as it did this year. Most of my life, Christmas was always a joyful time full of only laughter. Now that I am older and have experienced some of life's sorrows, Christmas brings to mind many emotions including missing loved ones who are no longer with me.  

Following church service on Christmas Day, I asked the lady who was serving at the information desk for that Sunday a question, and she answered it. Then, she smiled, reached out to touch my arm with her hand, and said, "You may find this strange... but isn't your name ____________ (saying my last name)?" As I nodded, she explained that I had been her Algebra I teacher at South Grand Prairie High School and told me that I had been her favorite math teacher. She explained why in a couple of sentences. 

I only taught at South Grand Prairie High School for one year in 1977-1978. Her encouraging words and remembrances from almost forty years ago lifted my spirits,  

and I thought of angels here on earth. 

Please join me at these inspiring places for more joy of living. 

Dishing It and Digging It @ Rustic and Refined