Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mrs. Rivard's Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas
And Mrs. Rivard was nestled, snug in her lonely bed.

“It’s not really Christmas though, “
the sitter on duty thought.
“Christmas in July … who ever heard of such a thing?
But if it makes Mrs. R happy …
and besides ... she’ll probably be gone by December.”

Too bad the nephew and his wife were off on a cruise
to celebrate their 40th … they were always with Mrs. Rivard
on holidays and all the special occasions she loved to celebrate.
But it was unusually sultry this July, even for Natchez.
So she’d encouraged them to go away
“Funded the trip as well” … one sitter had whispered to another
as they changed shifts.
There wasn’t much the sitters didn’t know
at this point.

She had become frail, but still insisted on having the table set
for the meals she seemed less and less interested in eating.
“Just set the little table for one. Make it look Chrismasy,”
Mrs. R. had instructed before she went to bed.

Eloise did her best, using what she could find in the little storage closet.
The one beside the cozy nook off Mrs. R’s bedroom,
where the little table was located … just a few feet from the bed.
“I’ll use one of those old Haviland plates she always liked
and her favorite silverware – that fancy set.”

When Eloise was younger … when they were both much younger …
she would often help serve at the big dinner parties.
Mrs. R would say “Remember, Eloise, fancy silver with plain dishes;
simple patterns with the flowery plates.”

The candles would be lit.
She likes having candles, regardless of the time of day.
She’ll want a lot of them burning today,
since it’s “Christmas.”

Eloise put the tattered mink on the back of the chair.
Just in case the old girl gets chilly from the air conditioning
that never seems to stop running this summer.
She remembered how Mrs. R’s eyes had sparkled
when she showed Eloise the new fur jacket ...
Christmas, 1967 … could it really be that long ago?

She still enjoys having it around her thin shoulders.
Perhaps it makes her feel as if her husband is wrapping
his strong arms around her, protecting her from the world…
from feeling lonely … from thinking about what lies ahead …

China: Theodore Haviland "Shelton"
Flatware: Gorham "La Scala"
Cross: Gorham
Sherbet: Fostoria "Silver Flutes"
Stemware: Fostoria "Wavecrest"
Fur: Borrowed
Crystal Candleholder: Fostoria "Baroque"
Silverplated Candleholder: Junk Store, $2
Crystal elephant: Junk Store, $.50
Wreath: Hobby Lobby (after Christmas clearance)
Tablecloth: Repurposed Drapes, $2
Please join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch to check out her wonderful beachy tablescape and visit all the participants in Tablescape Thursday!


  1. Why Bill -- what a lovely story along with the lovely table! I'm all sentimental now . . . and also hoping no one comes through the door and knocks Mrs. Rivard on her (ahem).

    No, really -- what a charming way to do a Christmas in July post! Love it...

  2. Wow, Bill...that is amazing--both the story AND the table setting!! So tell me, are YOU in Natchez??????
    I grew up in that area!!!


  3. Oh, I see that your profile says TN, but do you have roots there?


  4. The tablesetting is absolutely gorgeous. Such pretty silver and china. The story is just too precious. I love it all, especially the old mink to keep her warm. Just perfect. You really captured the essence of the Christmas season. Hugs, Marty

  5. You are so creative with your tablescapes, now we find you are even more creative with writing delightful stories to entertain us! Love it! Everything is just wonderful, especially the mink!!


  6. This is a beautiful tablescape with a lovely story to go with it!!! Who could ask for more on a Saturday morning!!! Thank you!!!


  7. A very pretty table setting. A sweet and also sad story at the same time.

  8. What a beautiful tablescape! The silver, Haviland china and Fostoria stemware look just beautiful against the burgundy tablecloth. I love your creative story, too.

    Merry Christmas in July!


  9. Bill, this was absolutely charmingly delightful! I was making one more blog round before I leave on my trip this afternoon, and I'm so glad I did. This was a WONDERFUL story, and I love Mrs. R's fur and all of her lovely dishes, flatware, crystal, and other table appointments.

    Haviland is probably my favorite china. When Mr. Magpie and I got married (and were off at college beforehand), my mother told me to go to the best jewelry store in town and pick out a Haviland pattern. In her mind, there wasn't any other china worth having! ;-) I ended up with a Royal Doulton pattern (long story), but I've mixed Haviland dessert/salad plates with it over the years. A person simply cannot have too much china. Oh, and I loved what Mrs. R said about silver. That's why I love Chantilly. She's a classic who can be dressed up or down. I didn't have a choice on that as my mother talked me into it as it was also her pattern. But I don't regret it because that's another thing a person can't have too much of, and I love to mix other family patterns and acquired ones, too, with that!

    See you when I return. Have a great weekend and week ahead!


    Sheila :-)

  10. So Bill when does the book come out? I know there is more to this story.
    The table is really pretty, and perhaps just this one time Eloise will be invited to join Mrs.Rivard. It is Christmas after all.

  11. Wonderful story and beautiful table. Thank you so much for sharing.


  12. Bill, once again you have an exquisite table and now a wonderful story to accompany it all. The crystal and silver is so beautiful and Mrs. R's story kept me enthralled.

    I do agree, you need to write a book.

    Thank you for participating again today. I look forward to visiting you often.

  13. Okay, now I have to go back and look at your pictures again because I was too taken up with the story!
    Is that from a book you read or it's something you wrote on your own? Amazing if so! Really touching.
    'Love your attention to detail. And love, love, love the idea of mixing bargain finds with high-end pieces.
    Okay, I'm off for a second look-see!
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
    All the best,

  14. Hi!!
    Wonderful story and beautiful table.

  15. Another great Bill post my friend...loved the story and WOW!! the table is beautiful...May you have a great week....Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  16. I love the table. It is breath taking. It's beginning to feel like Christmas. Too bad it's over 100 degrees at my house. And thanks for stopping by my blog & leaving me a comment. It really means a lot to me that you did.

  17. Hi,
    I'm back, thank you for visiting today. I have now posted a CIJ, better late than never! I had forgotten I had some Christmas plates in the cabinet! Not as fabulous as yours, but it's so much fun putting them together and visiting everybody else!


  18. Hi Bill,

    What a lovely story.
    The table setting is just beautiful and love Mrs Rivards China, crystal and the fur.

    Enjoy your weekend

  19. Divine post, beautiful story, gorgeous table and fabulous fur! Merry Christmas in July!


  20. A wonderful story and a great table!

    Absolutely LOVED both!

    You have such pretty things!

  21. Hi, Bill,
    and so then what happened? I didn't want the story to end. Beautiful post. Thanks!


  22. What a gorgeous post, everything is perfect, the story, the decor, incredible idea!

  23. The story, the table, the crysta; all so magical! Between you and Felecia, you've got me hooked on Christmas in July! LOL

    As with every visit, I am blown away again! Beautiful table!

  24. Hi Bill,
    great story, wonderful tablescape and stunning vignette. I love it all. Happy Christmas in July and have a wonderful Sunday,

  25. Bill, you have the most amazing collection of dinnerware, each post is something different and beautiful. . .You have really caught on to this and are quite a pro! Have a super day. . .

  26. You have a beautiful spirit, Bill!

  27. Hello Bill...

    I must admit that I've been seeing your name at some of my friend's blogs and just had to come over to see what you were all about! Hehe! So very nice to meet you!!! You have a delightful blog...I sure did enjoy traveling down through some of your posts! You have some gorgeous tablescapes displayed...just beautiful!!! I also enjoyed seeing some of your thrifty treasure finds! I think we have alot in common!!!

    Well my friend, I just adore this post about Mrs. R...what an endearing story! Ohhhh...and your Christmas table set for one is fabulous!!! I love that old Haviland pattern of's so pretty with all the silver and crystal that you used!

    Come by for a visit sometime...
    Warmest wishes,
    Chari @Happy To Design

  28. Thanks for your reply Bill. I'm glad that you've had such good responses with taking pictures. I guess I just need to get over my shyness of taking pics out in public. I'm probably missing some good shots! Have a great day!

  29. Very beautiful , but very sad. Merry christmas in July!`

  30. What a sweet though sad little story -- You certainly spin a good yarn along with your pretty tablescape.

  31. Bill, Love the story! Have you been following me around on my day job? :-)
    I almost forgot to look at Mrs. Rivard's beatiful tablescape...I was so enjoying the story. :-) Now, of course, you know I'll be expecting this every week! :-)

  32. Loving it all the second visit too! Relishing all the details!

  33. Bill, I think this is the beginning of a good book! I would love to hera "the rest of the story" as Paul Harvey used to say!!!! I am REALLY dating myself now:):) Loved the table, so elegant, and the story and the FUR! A lady loves a fur! Great post...please stop over to see mine if you get a chance! Pinky:)

  34. I'm glad you posted this on TT so others can see it! I enjoyed seeing it again!

    Don't forget to check out my CIJ post, I posted late Saturday.


  35. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Love it all!! What a wondferful table, you have some wonderful things. The story was way to cute.
    Come by for coffee and pie!
    Julie @ working on a dream

  36. Hello Bill! Love the theme of your setting and the great narrative to go with it. The table is beautiful with all that great crystal. Love the stems on those dessert cups!!

  37. Bill, What a poignant story to go with your lovely table! (Have you met any of my older relative? HaHa!) I will try and remember the silverware rule, but the Victorian diva in me really wants fancy with fancy!!!!
    Thanks for sharing and let me know if you do a sequel! :D Jewel

  38. My goodness gracious...this is too great. Loved the story so much that I forgot to look at the beautiful table..went back tho, and it is lovely.
    A beautiful post!!
    xo bj

  39. Now Bill-Why'd you want to make me cry? Eloise did all right in that little storage closet :)

  40. A Tennessee story-teller as well as a designer! It's such a beautiful story, Bill. You have left me (and the rest of us) wanting more! I truly felt like a participant in this Christmas in July celebration. Your table is an exquisite mix of silver and crystal! And that touch of mink...I could just feel the tickle of the fur as it was draped around my shoulders...
    Well done!
    Jane (Artfully Graced)

  41. Hi Bill,
    Love your post.... You have inspired me to start going to estate sales, my friend. Can't remember where, but someone (was it you?) said to check online as and I visited tonight. No sales in my area, but I'll keep checking. I love seeing the pictures of what's going to be offered! Happy Tablescape Thursday!

  42. So full of creativity, it is wonderful. thank you for sharing.

  43. Thanks...this inspires me to make a meal more of an event....our tables should help to make a place of home-i-ness and love. You should write stories!!!!

  44. Wonderful, truly your story was a gift.

  45. Beautiful tablescape and story to go with it, thank you for sharing with us all, it is really lovely.

  46. That was kind of sad... but sweet.

    The table is lovely! You have a lovely collection of beautiful pieces!


  47. Such an elegant holiday table for one, Bill! The blue candles mixed with the lovely damask tablecloth topped with silver and crystal looks so sophisticated and festive. The story was so charming. I love the touch of the mink coat on the back of the chair. You are so clever and so creative!

    Thank you for visiting me. I appreciate your thoughtful and sweet comment!


  48. What a lovely story and this one could be in Texas, maybe could start a book. The antique and vintage china I have I think would tell interesting stories, if it could tell us. I am reminded of the title of the book, "If Teacups Could Talk". The Fostoria is my favorite, but I do love Haviland-the French and the American. Thanks for a beautiful tablescape.

  49. Beautiful table and story, Bill. Maybe Mrs R. is my neighbor since Natchez is such a small town!....Christine