Each year we fly out of Chicago the week before Thanksgiving in order to get settled in our home away from home in California. Then, we take off for Scottsdale for our yearly Thanksgiving festive dinner with my darling daughter, Jenny, my warm and loving son-in-law, Bruce and my three grands, Skylar, Michael and Jack.

I am always excited to spend time at Jenny’s home. Each time I walk through her front doors, I feel as though I have never left. And truth be known, I wish I never had to leave because love, kindness, laughter and goodness pour out of the four walls of Jenny’s home. Even the three dogs lap kisses all over Shelly, Orchid and me.

Setting an example for my daughters

Looking back on my life as a young mother, my goal was to set the example of a loving, kind, generous and honorable mother. I taught my daughters how to make a house a home. How important the feminine touch is. They are both “hostesses with the mostest,” opening their doors with open arms. I taught by example more often than by words. Visual examples over verbal instructions was my motto.

My story today is of a Thanksgiving that took place a few years ago. You will see what I mean about Jenny after you finish reading my musings.

Jenny’s zebra tablecloth

My daughter, Jenny, is an artist. She was on the “Oprah Show.” She is a loving mother and terrific wife. However, she is neither a cook nor a housekeeper and has told me, laughingly, that the next home they live in will not have a kitchen! So why was this particular Thanksgiving dinner so beautiful, delicious and meaningful? Zebra tablecloths.

Allow me to set the early morning scene the day of Thanksgiving. To begin, nothing was done! The table was unset, the grocery shopping was not completed, but there was a plan…and a disagreement.

The plan: My son-in-law, Bruce, would do the grocery shopping and the cooking. We call him Mrs. Doubtfire! He will not let Jenny grocery shop. She spends too much money. He will not let her cook. She burns everything. But, he will let her decorate the house for Thanksgiving because she will make it a home you will never want to leave. Everyone at her table will be happy to be part of Jenny’s Thanksgiving dinner!

Shelly and I arrived from out of town the evening before. Party decorations were everywhere! There was zero organization. As her mother, I was not shocked, but you probably would have been. I know Jenny, and I knew everything would be perfect 24 hours later. After all, she is her mother’s daughter.

The following morning everyone went into double-time action mode: Bruce, the children, Shelly, Jenny and yours truly. Even their three dogs, Sugar, Mahalo and Kona and our dog, Orchid, seemed to be watching the excitement.

And then the disagreement started. Jenny wanted to buy shower curtains to use as dining room tablecloths!

Bruce said, “No, Jenny. We are spending enough.”

Jenny pleaded, “These shower curtains are so special.”

“Shower curtains for tablecloths?” I thought to myself with a smile.

I pulled her aside and asked her what they looked like.

“They are cloth and the pattern is like the stripes on a zebra.” Jenny told me.

“Zebra stripes?” I repeated.

“Yes,” she answered.

“That’s an artist for you,” I thought to myself… and smiled. Who in the world would ever come up with the idea of zebra striped shower curtains for a Thanksgiving dinner table? Only Jenny.

“Let’s go look,” I said. So off to Target we went.  I must say they were beautiful. The cloth was stark white and the stripes were jet black and I looked at this daughter of mine and said,  “I love them! And I want to buy them for you as a Thanksgiving present.”

A Thanksgiving to remember

The day went perfectly. It was beautiful and sunny. Mrs. Doubtfire cooked. Jenny and I set the dining room table. My grandchildren ran around. Dogs lounged. Shelly watched football. It was a perfect setting on a perfect day to give thanks.

And then darkness set in and guests began to arrive and Jenny’s table came alive. It was breathtaking! The shower curtains stood out against colorful, red patterned plates with red candles running down the center of the table and bright flowers in small clear glass vases in front of each of the eighteen place settings. The aroma of Mrs. Doubtfire’s cooking enveloped their home.

The crowd was as unexpected as the zebra tablecloths, which made for a very interesting and engaging evening.

The people around the table showed the diversity of our country. There were Hispanics, African-Americans, Caucasians, Jews, Christians and zebra designed table cloths at Jenny’s and Bruce’s Thanksgiving Dinner!  The evening had wonderful conversation, which of course included the story of Jenny’s zebra tablecloths, which some said were the hit of the night!

However, in my mind, my daughter, Jenny was the hit. She had the clarity of vision to know exactly how she wanted to present her table to her guests. She was wise in her selection of friends. She is raising three delicious, respectful and loving children, my grands, she is devoted to Mrs. Doubtfire, her husband and she is… my Jenny.

I WISH YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING THIS WEEK.

Have a marvelous turkey day and count your blessings as I will certainly count mine.

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