I love my stack of well-used mismatched cloth napkins. It’s not a neat pile though I sometimes wish it were. Some are worn down fabric squares, some thick and nearly like canvas, some simple bandanas, others embroidered artistic pieces. A few contain stains stubbornly penetrating the fabric dye. Many times I’ve thought that I should replace those napkins with a set of unstained and matching ones. But I can’t bear to part with the ones I have. And how would they handle the rejection?
The old but not yet threadbare soft blue napkins were a gift from a friend who did not love the color blue, there are napkins from my parents with deep stains nearly as old as I am. The orange and gold ones are my own purchase, autumn colors and season being my favorite. Bandanas, purchased for costumes over the years, make great napkins in case you didn’t know. Their thinness is actually a comfort to the diner, their commonness sets the user at ease. Ironically, none of the bandanas ever get stained. It is the more fancy or substantially textured and pricey napkins that attract the wine, oil and beet stains. And usually the white, which generally rest not on this pile but in the laundry basket.
I know some of you, okay most, could not tolerate sitting down to a meal with four cloth napkins of different color, texture, style and stages of cleanliness. But it bothers me not one bit. I prefer it. It’s like hosting an unlikely gathering of old relatives, best friends, trendy new stylish acquaintances, as well as the always steady, practical neighbor. An eclectic group who share a sense of purpose. And all assembled at one table, enjoying the same meal and conversation.
So, grab a napkin and have a seat. Bon appetit!