I remember arriving for Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle’s house as a child. The tables were set with family china and an assortment of silver. Nothing matched – there were too many people joining to use only one set – but everything was special. 

Did I know how much that meant to me at the time? These special details? Did I appreciate it? Not instantly – I just knew I looked forward to seeing my cousins. Playing Spoons on the living room rug, all generations at once. Eating shrimp cocktail from my grandparents, artichoke dip from my second cousins, creamed onions from my uncle, cornbread pudding from my aunt. 

Did I know how much thought, and care went into the planning and execution of such a big event? Not when I was 8, or 10, or 12. Not consciously at least.

But I felt it. The love of family, the tradition of coming together, from near and far, every year. Watching time pass in slow motion. 
And these tables, these beautifully set tables, pulled us in, set the mood, gave us a physical place to come together. To talk, to laugh, to tell stories heard again and again, gaining meaning with each additional telling. They gave us a place to linger, and we did.

As I set the table this year, taking time to polish each fork, lay out each plate and glass, iron the napkins and place the candles, I think back on these memories and hope to create a space for family and friends to linger. Our lives are busy, for better or worse, and Thanksgiving is a day to remember to slow down, be thankful, reflect. These special details help jolt us out of our every day routine, and are a reminder to do just that.

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