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Treasuring Holiday Heirlooms




Carol Frederick’s holiday table is breathtaking each year. Her home, like the table set for Christmas dinner, is filled with objects that even the untrained eye can recognize as either inherited or imported.

But it’s not such cachet that captures Carol’s imagination. Rather, it is the feelings and memories those treasured and beautiful heirlooms evoke that make them worthy of her table.

The handcrafted tablecloth was purchased during a happy sojourn to Hong Kong, while the monogrammed napkins at each place setting were made by nuns living in a French monastery. Carol loves the delicate linens because they are beautiful, yes, but also because they remind her of exploring the Left Bank of Paris with her daughter during an especially memorable trip.

The teacups and other dinnerware are poignant remembrances of her late mother-in-law (who hand-painted china), and the cobalt blue chargers are souvenirs of a long-ago family vacation to Virginia. The centerpiece, which varies by the season and occasion, is invariably an array of timeworn but much-loved family heirlooms.

“It’s not about things—they come and go—but beautiful memories you can always keep and always treasure,” Carol says, adding that she learned the art of collecting and of presenting those collections in beautiful context from her late mother, Lanoree Bennett.

“She was the epitome of the Southern hostess; that was a huge part of her and there was nothing contrived about it. If you went into her house, you felt warmth and love. Now, when I look at anything of hers in my home, I feel that same love and warmth,” Carol says. “Mother always had fine pieces. She had a great respect for them, but they were always meant to be touched and to be used.”

That same sort of respect and love lies at the core of Carol’s philosophies on the elements of preparing a beautiful table, of heartfelt hospitality, and of treasuring those heirlooms of which she is guardian for a short while.

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