A Perfect Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving dinner on a table: ham; cornbread; sweet potatoes; pumpkin pie; cranberries; and, of course, a turkey full of stuffing.

A Perfect Holiday. . .

Unlike many other holidays, Thanksgiving arrives in what seems like a matter of minutes, and although it leaves just as quickly, a feeling of contentment and inner peace remains. Warm, fall colors grace our table as warm, delicious foods grace our bellies.

Special decorations adorn the table, which is itself covered in the finest tablecloth — gold on gold, autumn-colored leaves, rustic-colored plaid, or off-white Quaker lace. A family of pumpkins takes the center stage in a delightful array as they sit and watch the festivities.

The festivities begin early in the morning as we wait and watch for the arrival of Santa Claus in the Thanksgiving Day Parade, and they end late in the day as we fall asleep on the sofa pretending to watch television along with everyone else.

We tell stories about the time when our brother tried so hard to grab the wishbone that he fell head first into the bowl of mashed potatoes. Nonetheless, no one went hungry simply because this is one meal where you can find more food on the dinner menu than in the refrigerator itself.

This is a day not just of stuffing a turkey, but of stuffing yourself. It is a day of trying to gauge just how much food you can pile onto your plate and then trying to find a way to sneak what you can't eat onto your sibling's plate without being noticed. It is a day of trying to forget how hard you fought over the turkey's tail until you finally realized what it was and just where it sat on the turkey.

No matter how many Thanksgiving dinners we sit through, we always look forward to this time of camaraderie, treasured memories, and sumptuous food. The home is full of aromatic smells tempting us even before it's time to give thanks for all that we have to be grateful for on this day. As we glance at the table settings to find our places, we can't help but be reminded of those who are no longer with us and those who are yet to join us in this world.

There are no long weeks of agonizing over what mom or dad has hidden in the closet for Christmas morning to endure. There are no endless sessions writing out cards to greet relatives that we only meet with pen and paper. There are no endless waits in line at overcrowded and overly warm stores just to purchase gifts that will most likely be returned the following month.

. . .Deserves the Perfect Decorations

Instead, there's simply the decorating of the perfect Thanksgiving table by selecting a theme and sticking with it. Set out tableware in hues of muted gold, glowing orange, earthy brown, warm russet, and natural red to grace the table in a medley of dazzling fall grandeur. The salt and pepper shakers have a commanding presence in the lifelike image of pilgrims, Indians, pumpkins, or turkeys. The glassware is crystal clear, allowing the other colors to reflect from its brightness. The best silverware graces the table with its elegant appearance.

We add freshly washed napkins to match this year's selection of a tablecloth, complete with cute napkin rings in the likeness of turkeys, pumpkins, or pilgrims. The napkins are intricately folded to resemble turkeys or to form a creative pouch for our silverware setting. Napkins with a busy pattern add a touch of pizzazz to an elegant yet simply designed tablecloth, whereas solidly colored napkins tone down an already busy table.

Perhaps personalized placemats are used to identify seating arrangements or simply to show a sign of affection. Again, warm colors continue the theme of autumn. Additionally, matching placemats and napkins can add a unique look to the table décor.

With a solid-colored tablecloth, so many more options exist for decorating the remainder of the table. A patterned tablecloth that employs a lighter version of a color on a darker version of a color presents a nice appearance while maintaining some neutrality.

Place cards can be used if desired and provide an excellent way to add a little zest to the table. Design your own either on the computer or by hand. Store bought varieties are very attractive and are available in a wide variety of designs.

The Thanksgiving dinner table centerpiece is typically the eye catcher of the day — after the turkey, of course. A bevy of candles in different sizes and in fall colors makes an attractive centerpiece. A crystal bowl of fresh fruit or a platter draped in grapes and filled with colorful baby pumpkins and gourds is also an excellent choice.