Neatly Ironed Witnesses

These placemats. These. Placemats. Why do I still have them? They are old, and stained. They are not slick, shiny and wash-offable. I’m not sure exactly how long I’ve had them, but I know I bought them at Bi-Mart, for less than $2 each, before Cyann was born … and she’s going to be 14 tomorrow.

If you know me you know I am not a saver. I have little to no hoarding tendency. We have lived in this house over 20 years and I have several empty drawers, cupboards and shelves. I am the queen of discarding or donating. But I keep these placemats.

And you know what? They have to be ironed. WHAT?!? Back up!! Did you hear that?!? THEY HAVE TO BE IRONED. The corners curl up into a nasty mess after being washed, and I iron them. I worked in a professional environment and did not keep clothing that had to be ironed. I have an ironing board and iron only because I sew … and because I have these placemats.

They are for both casual, every day usage and formal events. Well, as close to formal as I get … if you come to my house for dinner one will be under your FiestaWare plate. Ignore the stains; if there is something crusty on it feel free to pick it off; admire the neatly pressed corners. You’re welcome.

Do I keep them because I remember Daynon and Cyann competing to get a placemat with the kitty cats? Daynon never really cared which placemat he had but Cyann loved the kitty cats so it became a sure-fire way to push her buttons. It worked every time.

These placemats saw one of the few times I lost my cool with a grandchild. Cyann, ever the fussy eater, was mucking around in her food. I was trying to get her to eat, knowing that either her Dad or Grandpa would soon lose their patience and punish her. Finally in exasperation I yelled “Eat!” And then, as the kids would describe it with eyes wide as saucers, “Grandma slapped the table!”

These placemats have seen Mike and I laugh until our sides hurt, cry until our hearts would break; fight like we were mortal enemies and make up like…ummm…well, ahem…let’s keep this G-rated.

I think I want new placemats. While out shopping I look. I note the design, I feel the fabric. I have even put some of them in my shopping cart. I just never make it to the check stand with them. There is always something that is just not quite right, so I put them back on the shelf. Eventually I will be forced to address this issue as I started out with 8 and now find I only have 6. I don’t know where the MIA placemats are. They must be like socks; tangible, physical items that just disappear, occasionally to return on moving day when you find them in a totally random location. My placemats are probably behind the refrigerator, in which case I will never see them again. I moved the fridge once, there is nothing but scary shit back there. Dust bunnies with teeth … hand to god …

All that being said, I’m right back to my original question. Why do I still have them? I don’t know, but I suspect because they are a constant. In a world rife with change, where tiny grandkids become awesome young **gulp** adults, where cancer and Alzheimers catch you off guard, they stay the same. They are a reminder of so many memories sitting around this table (with its big nail polish remover stain) that replaced the previous table (also with a big nail polish remover stain! What’s up with that?!? I hardly ever wear polish on my nails but have managed to damage not one, but two tables!!)

Our house is small and this table sits directly in front of the front door, smack dab in the middle of the living room and kitchen. I have a computer area and sewing/craft room but eventually all projects wind up out here. iPad, laptop or sewing machine sitting on top of a placemat.

Everything happens here, at this table, with these placemats as neatly ironed witnesses.