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Family's Traditional Thanksgiving Tablecloth Has Nearly Two Decades Of Guests' Signatures On It

Emily McWilliams 27 Nov 2019

Before the age of smartphones and social media, one woman came up with a simple way to capture Thanksgiving memories.

Armed with a white tablecloth and some markers, this Thanksgiving tradition has been followed year after year, and has even inspired others to make their own.

Every family has their own Thanksgiving traditions.

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Some families like to host a board game tournament, and others brace themselves for Aunt Mildred's Jell-O molds. No matter how quirky these traditions are, they make the holiday that much more special.

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One family's eclectic Thanksgiving tablecloth tradition has gone viral and inspired others to make their own version.

ABC News | Deb Mills

In 2000, Deb Mills of Clinton, Missouri decided she wanted to start a new tradition with her blended family.

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All Deb needed was a plain white tablecloth and some markers.

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She asked her teenage children at the time to take a marker and sign the tablecloth. Deb said her kids looked at her like she was "crazy" when she made the request.

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However, signing the tablecloth every Thanksgiving became a yearly tradition.

ABC News | Deb Mills

Every guest who joins the family for Thanksgiving dinner signs the tablecloth.

“When the kids were younger, they would say, ‘If we invite so and so and we break up, then what?’” Deb said in an interview with ABC News. “And that has happened. But we have gravy boats strategically placed for just that reason.”

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Nearly two decades after the tradition started, grandchildren have come along and signed the tablecloth, too.

ABC News | Deb Mills

The tablecloth has gained meaning as it also has the signatures of family members who have passed away. Deb's daughter, Mary, suffered a ruptured aneurysm, so Deb treasures seeing her signature every Thanksgiving.

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Each year, Deb picks a color for everyone to use when they sign.

ABC News | Deb Mills

That way they know which signature is from which year. Deb keeps track of the color code along the cloth's edge.

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In the winter, Deb hand embroiders each name to make sure the signatures will last year after year.

This Thanksgiving tradition first went viral in 2016, but since then it's inspired others to start their own.

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Some people have even decided to dub them "Gratitude Cloths".

People can write what they are grateful for in addition to signing their names.

What an awesome and simple Thanksgiving tradition to start with your own family.

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