For 16 years, Thanksgiving guests have signed tablecloth in Clinton, Mo. home

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CLINTON, Mo. -- It's many family's central hub for the holiday.

One home in the metro sees the Thanksgiving dinner table as a record of family history, with a tablecloth that's become a social media hit.

What started as a simple Thanksgiving gesture is now a record of family history.

Deb Mills from Clinton, Mo. first used this special tablecloth back in 2001, and asked that all her Thanksgiving dinner guests sign it with a pen.

“We have 16 years worth of signatures,” Mills told FOX 4 News.

The table topping comes out every Thanksgiving, and every guest she's served over that time has left their mark.

“Each year is a different color,” Mills said.

Some guests have signed it more than once over the years, and later, Deb embroiders in the signatures. Some of them have virtually grown up at this table.

“We have some very special signatures,” Mills demonstrated.

Some of them will never be forgotten, like Mills' daughter, Mary, who died in 2013, after suffering an aortic aneurysm at age 43.

“It makes it so precious to be able to get the tablecloth out at Thanksgiving and look and see her signature and know that she's here with us in spirit,” Mills said.

Deb says she wanted to start a tradition her family would enjoy every year when turkey rests on the table.

“I had heard of tablecloths being signed at showers and weddings, but never for Thanksgiving. I thought this would be uniquely ours,” Mills said on Thursday.

The Mills' have learned they're not alone. Deb shared a photo of her tablecloth on social media, and it took off.

“There was over 100,000 likes and comments,” Mills said, explaining she never expected such attention.

“It's a wonderful record. It becomes more so the longer it goes because of those people who were with us who are no longer with us,” David Mills, Deb’s husband, said.
“It's really cool. It's so traditional for the family. It's all about family for them. I think that's wonderful, especially at thanksgiving,” Lisa Wallace, Mills family friend, said.

Deb Mills says a number of her neighbors have been so impressed by the tablecloth, after the holiday season wraps up, she's planning to teach others to embroider and, perhaps, to build their own tablecloth timelines

FOX 4 News spoke with the Mills family at the Clinton Senior Center, where a lot of free thanksgiving meals were prepared. In all, volunteers donated 74 turkeys, and served close to 800 plates loaded with holiday goodies.