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Family's gratitude tablecloth has 21 years of messages and memories

They were inspired by former TODAY co-anchor Katie Couric.
/ Source: TODAY

Twenty-two years ago, Caroline Harrington, a mom in Minnesota, was watching TODAY when co-anchor Katie Couric shared a special Thanksgiving tradition.

“Katie had this idea to get a light-colored tablecloth and have everyone go around and write what they’re thankful for,” Harrington told TODAY Parents. “My family has been doing it ever since.”

The Harringtons gratitude tablecloth is now 19 feet long, and after more than two decades of use the linen is dotted with gravy and cranberry sauce from Thanksgivings past. But the retired massage therapist and her husband Denis Harrington, don’t mind one bit.

Caroline Harrington holds her Thanksgiving gratitude tablecloth. Courtesy Caroline Harrington
The Harrington family has been collecting messages and signatures since 1998.Courtesy Caroline Harrington

“It’s just part of the memories,” Harrington explained. “I used to wash it, but then the messages were starting to fade. So I thought, ‘Heck, I’ll just shake it off and we’ll have some stains.’”

Harrington, whose four sons are now grown and range in age from 29 to 33, considers the tablecloth a piece of their family history. It includes signatures from relatives who are no longer alive, including Harrington's father.

“Everybody loves it because it’s just so simple and anyone can do it. All you need is a Sharpie,” Harrington said. For kids who can’t write, Harrington suggests tracing their hands.

Caroline Harrington loves reading old messages on her tablecloth.Courtesy Caroline Harrington

“Anyone can be included,” she revealed. “You’ll go back and laugh at some of the things like we have.”

Though the Harringtons typically have more than 10 people at their table, this year it will just be three because of COVID-19 safety concerns.

“We’re in Minnesota and it’s kind of a hot spot,” Harrington told TODAY Parents. “I’ve sectioned off a spot on the tablecloth called ‘2020 COVID corner.’”