Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why I Always Use Cloth Napkins


Today's guest post is written by fellow blogger, Carol Covin. She has added a special touch to her meals since the beginning of her marriage 45 years ago!

I was a newlywed.

My husband of 5 months had been drafted, reporting two days after we eloped. 
Photo Credit
He and a new buddy had arranged for me and the other wife to be roommates while our husbands lived in the barracks for the Army’s Officer Candidate School that summer of 1968.

The war in Vietnam seemed to be ramping up and new officers were needed.

Our husbands would graduate as 2nd Lieutnants in November, bound for Vietnam a year later.

My new roommate had been married two years.

The first time our husbands came home for a weekend pass, 10 weeks into training, she put candles out for dinner.
Then, she told me of the tradition she had started early in their marriage.

“I decided we would always dine by candlelight. We always have, even if, sometimes, I have to run get the candles just before dessert.”

I thought it a lovely tradtion and set about to think up one of my own.

I didn’t want to borrow the candle tradition because I didn’t think I could keep it up over a long marriage.

And, I worried it would be dangerous around children.



But, the idea of establishing a tradition that ties a family together with new rituals appealed.

I didn’t yet know that my husband would eventually teach me to like greens, a Southern tradition, far from my midwestern roots.

I didn’t know my husband would discover he liked my mother’s meatloaf, far from his mother’s style of cooking.

But, cloth. It seemed so luxurious.

A far cry from my practical mother’s paper napkins when we sat down to eat every night at 6 when I was growing up.

Cloth. Worthy of our shared commitment to eat together as a family every night.

I had embroidered placemats and napkins for my trousseau during that long week after Kennedy was assassinated and we stayed glued to the television, in 1963.

Photo Credit

I tried napkin rings, but my husband objected. He didn’t want to eat with dirty napkins.

Now, a dedicated cupboard is filled with tablecloths, cloth napkins and placemats.

I notice my daughter-in-law has swapped out her paper napkins for cloth.



Carol Covin is the author of "Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers." Her favorite set of napkins and placemats is still the embroidered set she made for her trousseau. Unfortunately, she no longer irons, so they remain unused, folded neatly in a dining room drawer, next to the pretty, unused napkin rings. You can read more of Carol's writings at her blog New Grandmas



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30 comments:

  1. Oh this is beautiful and touched my heart, and brought tears to my eyes. My husband is in the military too and he's been gone much of our 7 year marriage. Each and every meal we share together as a family is precious!!! I will start a tradition today, to remind me to savor our time together as a family.
    ~Katie
    www.simplefoody.org

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  2. We love using cloth napkins! After seeing your post, I must do some hand-stitched napkins soon! Blessings to you! Kristina

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    1. I love hand-stitched napkins, Kristina! They add such a special touch.

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  3. Thank you, Katie. Such family-anchoring traditions are even more important in a military family, when there are so many absences. The first 3 years we were married, we lived together 13 non-contiguous months, and that did not include our first two anniversaries. We just celebrated 45 years.

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    1. Carol, for some reason I can't email you--it keeps coming back "fatal error". Sounds serious! Thanks for your post and your link!

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    2. Sharon, Sometimes my email box fills up. Should be ok now.

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  4. Awesome idea, good tradition!
    ~Mrs. Lopez of lovinglifeinpink.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you, Mrs. Lopez. I inherited lovely, embroidered napkins from my grandmothers for special occasions.

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  5. So sweet! Inspires me to get some cloth napkins.
    Stopping in from Titus 2 Linky

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    1. Thanks, Betsy. I like cloth for the luxury, but I think cloth is catching on for being environmentally friendly, too.

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  6. I am visiting you from Family Home and Life. I think that this is a beautiful tradition. I think that dinner is sacred and adding the cloth napkins only adds to that. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. You're so welcome, Ana. I love what Sharon does here to promote sitting down and sharing family meals together.

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing Carol's writing. I just bought her book "Who Gets to Name Grandma" for my Kindle. I hope it will contain some much-needed insight for me.

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  8. Susan, I hope you enjoy my book! It was fun talking to Moms and Grandmas about what they'd like to share.

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  9. What a great tradition! I love making a table look pretty but the idea of cloth napkins for every meal is real nice.

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    1. Thanks, Grandma KC. Making a table festive seems to add to connecting the family together over food.

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    2. Thanks, Grandma KC. Making the table festive seems to help connect the family together over food.

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  10. Beautiful memories. Thanks for sharing them. (Visiting from Bible Love Notes linkup.)

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    1. Thanks, Laura. Many of my memories seem to center around food and eating together as a family.

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  11. I love this. What a sweet, beautiful, and even "green" tradition!

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    1. Thanks, Gabrielle, only now do I realize that luxury can also be environmentally sensitive!

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  12. This has been our tradition since we married in 1985 too!

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    1. Thanks, May, A fellow traveler on the road to good food, family and traditions.

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  13. I love it, what a great idea and Sweet story.

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    1. Thanks, Virginia. A tradition that has been easy to keep.

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  14. My mother in law always uses cloth napkins too ... even for regular dinners.

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    ¤´¨)
    ¸.•*´
    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
    www.raising-reagan.com

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    1. Thanks, Lanaya, Once you get in the habit, it's easy to do them for every meal and just throw them in the regular, weekly wash.

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  15. Wow. My husband was in Vietnam also in 1966. It was a hard time but we've been together ever since. So glad you are part of Crafts a la mode and Two Succulent Sisters! Best wishes to you always, Linda

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  16. I've never considered using cloth permanently!

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  17. We recently had guest for a pasta dinner and as I was getting out the good china I also grabbed the cloth napkins. I don't have any other kind. We are casual and our guest had already seated themselves at the table and chatting went on just fine as I sat the table until I put down the cloth napkins. Everyone hushed as if we were going to be to formal to talk. They didn't want to use them! But I encouraged everyone to use them and soon all was fine! I love cloth napkins too :) Good story. Thanks for linking with me.

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