Thanksgiving tradition chronicled on tablecloth

When Cynthia Moore of Liscomb and family finish their Thanksgiving meal in Ute, a small town in western Iowa, she will hand out washable markers to all.

And be they family or guest, young or old, all will sign their name, just like those who have gone before them.

They date each year and write where the family gathered.

There is Ute, where her late mother lived, Alexander, in north central Iowa, where her sister resides and Liscomb.

Later, Moore will embroider their names with different color thread and the tradition marks another year.

The family started the tradition immediately after the Thanksgiving meal in 1994 and initiated the tablecloth which will see duty again Thursday.

“Everyone has to do it before they leave the table,” Moore said. “Then, we know where we met and who was in attendance every year.”

The “special Thanksgiving tablecloth” to the family would be a regular tablecloth to someone else if they saw it brand new at a Target or Walmart.

And it was at one of those stores years ago that Moore bought it, and had the idea for all to sign after the grand meal.

When Moore unfolds it the names Barry Hoy, Bob, Brent Kruger ’08, Cynthia Moore, Goldie, Joyce, Sarah Moore and Scott are there with years and locale, such as Ute, 1997 and 2012.

The tablecloth indirectly has become a chronicler of family history – from toddler to youth to teen, of lives led and sadly, death.

It has the signature of Moore’s grandmother, who passed away in 1998 and Moore’s mother, who died in September.

“Our children’s signatures have developed over the years from writing as young children do, to more mature lettering, some printed, others cursive,” Moore said.

“My niece has gone from maiden name to a married name. Her husband’s signature represents two periods – one as fiancee and another as husband.

With the passage to time, the embroidery used by Moore reflects school’s attended and athletic allegiances.

“We are a house divided,” Moore said, smiling.

Thus, there is the black and gold of the University of Iowa, cardinal and gold of Iowa State and black and orange for Wartburg College in Waverly.

“A few years ago I said that I was going to retire the tablecloth because I was having trouble coming up with new colors for the embroidery,” Moore said. “My niece and daughter raised such a fuss that the tradition continues.”