Upon hearing their catchy tune, I thought about Friederich, the trophy fox my brother-in-law Zach had mounted earlier this year. My sister Maggie adhered to the good ol’ Southern expression quoted in Steel Magnolias, “… either shoot it, stuff it or marry it.” Maggie happily stuck with the latter.
Just what was Friederich trying to tell me? What does he say? Well, leave it to me to translate his desires as the following: “I wish to be the Thanksgiving centerpiece!”
I granted Friederich his request and even placed him as the centerpiece on the grown-ups’ table – not the lowly kids’ table. Our family’s new rule of order is if you have issued a child, you are granted an elevation from the kids’ table to “big table.” Yet, Baby Napp sat at the “big table” and not with Brubbs, SissyMama and the other “chillrun”… how did he swing that? I digress…
There is no denying my love for a taxidermy, or “taxidermy-chic” if you will. Antler mounts, stuffed trophies, turtle shells and feathers all find their way into my design schemes and tablescapes. Quite fortunately, I have a brother-in-law, cousins, uncles and friends who are mighty hunters and provide me with a gracious plenty for my designs.
Y’all may have seen my Southern Living Thanksgiving spread last month, and so my Big Mama’s (Mimi’s grandmother, thus my great, great-grandmother) turkey plates are a mainstay at our family table. As Mimi always said, “We eat with our eyes first…” so I find it important for the table and food’s presentation to be the first feasting. With Friederich keeping watch over the flock of turkeys, I interspersed some of Aunt Kathy’s Italian painted plates depicting other woodland and water creatures. Upon our tables, one could find a raft, a brace and a flush of ducks; a skein, a gaggle, a herd and a corps of geese; a pack of wolves; and of course, an earth, a leash, a skulk or troop of foxes. I absolutely adore the nomenclature of animal groupings!
Pumpkins, Granny Smith apples, pine boughs and nandina berries scattered the table too, thus creating a Southern, autumnal plank of foliage and fruit for Friederich to pose. As for the candlesticks, I found a bunch of old spools from a textile factory to serve as the pillar candle bases on the “big table” and my trusty antler candelabra for the “kids’ table.” Yet, for the kids’ table, I veered away from the traditional autumnal palette and stuck to my all-time favorite color scheme – blue and white.
To me, blue and white is neutral. The sky is blue and white most of the time and I find this classic pairing bodes so well in any season, pattern, color scheme and setting. Mixing more of Aunt Kathy’s blue and white painted plates with some Blue Willow “blue plate specials” was an easy choice for me. If you’ve ever wondered where the “blue plate special” came from, well take a gander at these divided dinner plates and you’ll learn. Often, the special of the day at a restaurant was served on a blue plate, many times a Blue Willow plate mind you, and thus the term became synonymous with a dinner or lunch special. Like myself and my family, no one individual is perfect. We all have our scars, chips, dings and dents, so if your plates do too, then welcome them still to your table.
Blue plaid and blue striped linens, a mix of mine, Mama’s, Aunt Kathy’s, Mimi’s and Aunt Irene’s silver, amber hued tumblers and goblets, bubble glass tumblers and jelly jars all melded together with the dinnerware and décor to create a tableau of generational and aesthetic delight. This year we knew was going to be different and bittersweet without Mimi, yet we managed. We held Thanksgiving on Friday which gave us an extra day to set tables and cook and keep our minds busy more so.
Mimi, though was there. She is now like the silver, some of the plates and linens – not necessarily present as a whole but positively tarnished, chipped and frayed into the very fabric of each one of us. Thanks and giving – that is what the day is truly about; and, for me, setting the tables allows me to share the bits and pieces of my legacy, my heart really, at each place setting. From this Farmer’s table to yours, thanks for giving me the chance to share a little bit of my family with y’all. Maybe, just maybe, that’s what the fox is really saying after all.