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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




  1. Your angel table is beautiful! We all remember the teachers that made a difference for us, but isn't it wonderful that she shared her gratitude with you after all this time.

  2. I love that a former student told you how much you meant to her. That means so much! And the angel plates are gorgeous. I may try to remember to create an angel table on my library table next year. It really looks beautiful and I can start now to collect a few things. Happy New Year sweet friend. Hugs, Diane

  3. What a coincidence, this morning I was just reading from little books I collect, this one, "Angels are Forever" and it has amy uplifting quotes. I adore your angel table, beautiful. How special to have the angel plates and the glass angel from your mom. The cloch is perfect for the centerpiece and another special piece, sisters are angels too. Wishes for a wonderful and Happy New Year. I'm off to H'vill to spend NYE with family.............

  4. Beautiful table, beautiful setting, beautiful story. I love Christmas, but because my dad is no longer with me, Christmas brings mixed emotions for me as well. This post brought joy to my heart. Thank you, Judith.

  5. You always have the perfect touch to your table. The dishes, the cloche, of course the color blue, down to the tiny card. And all bring such wonderful memories of your mother. There are angels on earth and I think you might just be one of them!

    1. Ginger,
      Thank you. Your kind words are another example of angelic actions here on earth. I am so glad we got to know one another.

      Joyeux Noël,

  6. Beautiful tablescape. Love your angel plates and sweet memories of your mother.The plates are gorgeous.
    How wonderful that your former student recognized you and shared what you meant to her.
    Happy New Year.

  7. Beautiful! Angels are such a special part of Christmas and the entertaining of angels unaware is even more special. What a wonderful Christmas memory to have a former student recognize you!

    I work for the same church where I was Children's Director many years ago and am so pleased to see some of the children from that time serving as leaders in various areas. I've also had the pleasure of having their children in the Birth through 3 year old area that I direct now. Such fun to see those kiddos all grown up and interacting with their own children!

  8. Hi Judith! Your table is beautiful. I especially love the flute playing angel plate- I am also a flute player. I don't play like I did in college, but I'm hoping when I retire, I can get back to it. Isn't just amazing when you run into former students? What a beautiful gift it was for you to hear from that student. :) Melissa from Craftylilypad

  9. what a lovely story at the end. It is so wonderful when we get to share with someone how they influenced or impacted us and so happy you got to hear that in person. Your plates are magnificent! I would have them in my china cabinet year round too! All of the details of your setting just must make everyone present feel so very special. A very Happy New Year to you Judith!

  10. What a beautiful posting. It touched my heart. Like your mom, my own mom believed in angels. In fact, my mom whispered she seen her angels just before she passed away in the hospital. I believe she was trying to tell us that her loved ones (now angels) were coming to greet her. It creates tears in my eyes thinking about that time. Your lovely angel tablescape is exquisite. I love your mom's vibrant blue salad plates. It is so wonderful hear about the musical connection to them as well. Each item is so special to you because of a special loved one. I enjoyed even the small details like the drink stirrers. I enjoyed your post very much. It warmed my heart. Happy New Year.

  11. Beautiful table Judith! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home.


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