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Carrying on my grandmother's traditions

December 18, 2018

When I was a little girl, we used to drive from our home in the suburbs to my grandmother's home in downtown Pensacola. My mom's mom was so special. Even when Alzheimers began to take her from us, she was the epitome of a proper lady. She always wore her beautiful blonde (she never missed a Friday appointment at the "beauty shop") hair in a loose, but neat, bun pinned by a gold-clad barette. She'd set the fanciest of tables, complete with a white linen table cloth (pressed to perfection), silver serving dishes (polished with love), and fresh flowers. She was even known to wear a fur coat at times (and tirelessly taught me table manners). 

It wasn't her fancy china or her beautiful silver that impressed me most, but the way she invited people into an experience in her dining room. From the cloth napkins to the candlewick plates, she wanted to spoil you with the experience of dinner around her table. It was lovely and special. Because we've lived eight hours away from home for the last ten years, I haven't had many chances to step into my grandmother's shoes (who lost her battle with Alzheimers in early 2008). 

But this holiday season, now newly settled into our forever home just minutes from family, I got the chance. For years, I dreamt of hosting our families on a beautiful back porch (the weather in Pensacola is pretty amazing year-round). I dreamed of kids running around, yummy food, and our favorite people. So choosing the centerpiece for this space was a special task, for I knew it would be the place where we'd drip queso watching football games, serve Thanksgiving with all the fixin's, and cut birthday cake to celebrate special days. 

I chose this Frontgate dining table and chairs as the centerpiece of the back porch for two reasons: 1) they're super high quality (we have quite a few Frontgate pieces already) and we knew they'd last forever (teak) and 2) the table seats a TON of people (up to 8). We have big families. :) 

When it came time to host a little family Christmas get-together, I didn't want to set the table with any old thing I could buy somewhere. I wanted it to feel special (like my grandmother's tables) and to include pieces that have long been special to our families, no matter where we lived. To me, that's the trick to a special table setting (a few high quality staple pieces, a few cute lower-priced items to make it fun, and special family items to make it meaningful). 

Here I used different pieces from the Sugar Paper x Target holiday line -- always my favorite and so reasonably priced (napkins, chargers, napkin rings, bell place card holders, table runner), our Mikasa wedding china (that has really become something we use almost everyday -- bc why not!), new centerpieces sourced locally from Pizzazz (a favorite if you're in Pensacola or Gulf Breeze), and hydrangeas from our yard.

Two pieces I used to decorate our table were the most special: my mom's vintage holiday rocks glasses (that she purchased from a Sears catalog when I was a little girl... I later found the same ones on Etsy to complete our collection) and, of course, my grandmother's fanciest gold flatware. I kid you not, I scrubbed and polished those pieces for hours to get them just right. They're still not perfectly spotless, but they were perfect for this table. 

Our dinner was small, simple, and sweet. I can't begin to tell you how good it feels to be home... and what an honor it is to carry on my grandmother's traditions in our own home. I kept thinking how much she would have loved this if she was here.

--

This post was created in partnership with my friends at Frontgate. Beautiful photos by Ashley Cochrane.

 

copyright 2019 emily ley