it’s the cloth napkins

I have an affinity for table settings. Dishes, glasses, table linens. I’m not big on cooking or eating, but creating the place to sit together with food is something I love to do. And why? .

Perhaps it’s the rules.
They are clear cut and prescribed.

Perhaps it’s the memories.
My mother’s serving dishes,
my grandmother’s cake plates,
the blue and white dishes I got at a garage sale,
the glass tumblers from Cost Plus,
the Portmeirion collection I purchased through
a long defunct department store china club.

Perhaps it’s the process.
How the items are cared for, cleaned, and stored.
Dried, stacked, organized.

Actually it’s the cloth napkins.

Cloth napkins are not about how they make the table look.
Or how it feels to use them. That’s a bonus.
It’s ironing on a Sunday afternoon. A meditative act
with an end result that feels like perfection.

The pleasure is in the transformation.
From wrinkled to pressed to folded.

Ironing a cloth napkin is restorative. A way to see the world, for just a moment as orderly.

Day 4, Slice of Life Challenge 2021, Read more slices here.

12 thoughts on “it’s the cloth napkins

  1. I just loved this. I don’t know why? I just got something out of it. I have a lot of mis-matched china from my grandmother (she was a doctor and I’m told could not boil water). I feel like the china and linen tell stories. I feel like your napkins do, too.

  2. Oh, I haven’t ironed in so many years. Since I was 12 or 13, I think. I’d never thought about how restorative and meditative ironing is, but you’re absolutely right. This slice felt restorative to read, capturing the rhythms of that transformation from wrinkled to pressed to folded.

  3. I think you’ve moved me toward using the cloth napkins again at home. In Covid times I’ve used it to spread out my lunch. But I am thinking I need to take more time in meal presentation, even if it’s just me. I cared about those things when I dined with the rest of my family. Thanks for the food for though.

  4. I love how this post shows a side of you I don’t know. How we spend time together but not in our homes where so many things are automatic. Ironing on Sunday is a beautiful and spiritual practice. Not one that I do, mind you. A friend of mine once did a documentary on women who iron. The title was something like She does the collars first…

  5. I just love this post! A great list and I love the idea of a cloth napkin as a restorative practice. I am thinking sustainability as well since you are not using throwaway paper napkins. It is a lovely post – creative, thoughtful, concise, full.

  6. What a surprisingly poetic tale of napkins. I didn’t know what I was going to get out of this slice, but I love that it was a celebration of something so innocuous

  7. You eat with your eyes first, and it sounds like you set a beautiful meal. I want cloth napkins…but haven’t taken the plunge. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  8. Your last sentence was so powerful. Who knew that cloth napkins could leave such an impact? Thank you for sharing this slice and making connections so thoughtfully throughout this piece!

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