11/25/2014 10:53 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2015

Thanksgiving and Zebra Tablecloths


My daughter, Jennifer, is an artist. She was on Oprah. She is a loving mother and terrific wife. However, she is neither a cook nor a housekeeper and has told me, laughingly, that the next home they live in will not have a kitchen! So, why was Thanksgiving at her home last year so beautiful, delicious and meaningful? Zebra tablecloths.

Allow me to set the scene: It's early morning on Thanksgiving Day. To begin with, nothing was done! The table was unset, the grocery shopping was not completed, but there was a plan... and a disagreement.

The plan: My son-in-law, Bruce, would do the grocery shopping and the cooking. We call him Mrs. Doubtfire. He will not let Jennifer grocery shop. She spends too much money. He will not let her cook. She burns everything. But, he will let her decorate the house for Thanksgiving because she will make it a home you will never want to leave. Everyone at her table will feel happy to be part of Jennifer's Thanksgiving dinner!

Shelly and I do not live near my daughter and her family, so we arrived from out of town the evening before. Party decorations were everywhere! Zero organization. As her mother, I was not shocked, but you probably would have been. I know Jennifer, and I knew everything would be perfect 24 hours later.

The following morning, everyone went into action mode: Bruce, the children, Shelly, myself and Jennifer. Even their three dogs and our dog, Orchid, seemed to be watching the excitement.

And then, the disagreement started. Jennifer wanted to buy shower curtains to use as dining room tablecloths. Bruce said, "No, Jennifer. We are spending enough." Jennifer pleaded, explaining these shower curtains were special. Shower curtains for tablecloths, I thought to myself with a smile.

I pulled her aside and asked her what they looked like.

"They are cloth and the pattern is like the stripes on a zebra." Jennifer told me.

"Zebra stripes?" I repeated.

"Yes," she answered.

That's an artist for you, I thought to myself and smiled. Who in the world would ever come up with the idea of zebra-striped shower curtains for a Thanksgiving dinner table? Only Jennifer.

"Let's go look," I said. So off to Target we went. They were beautiful, I must say. The cloth was stark white and the stripes were jet black and I looked at this daughter of mine and said, "I love them! And I want to buy them for you as a Thanksgiving present."

The day went perfectly. It was beautiful and sunny. Mrs. Doubtfire cooked. Jennifer and I set the dining room table. My grandchildren ran around. Dogs lounged. Shelly watched football. A perfect setting for a perfect day to give thanks.

And then, darkness set in and guests began to arrive and Jennifer's table came alive. It was breathtaking! The shower curtains stood out against colorful, red patterned plates with red candles running down the center of the table and bright flowers in small clear glass in front of each place setting that seated 18. The aroma of Mrs. Doubtfire's cooking enveloped their home.

The crowd was as unexpected as the zebra tablecloths, which made for a very interesting and engaging evening. The people around the table showed the diversity of this country. There were Hispanics, African-Americans, Caucasians, Jews, Christians and five zebra table cloths at Jennifer and Bruce's Thanksgiving Dinner! The evening had wonderful conversation, which of course included the story of Jennifer's zebra tablecloths, which were the hit of the night! However, in my mind, my daughter was the hit of the night.

Take this story with you as you get ready to celebrate your day of Thanks with loved ones this week and I hope it includes something special -- maybe even some zebra shower curtains...