Full circle from the 1960s to today: A tale of how Marimekko has influenced one family's entertaining style
My parents immigrated to the United States from India in 1964. My dad had accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, and they would be moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for at least three years. My mother had a great sense of style and looked to fashion icons like Jackie Kennedy for establishing her own simple and elegant sense of style. At that point in time, my parents were on a very limited income, yet they appreciated entertaining and welcoming people into their apartment in married student housing. Since my parents did not have close relatives in the United States, their friends, other graduate students, and young professor families became their family. These people became my aunts and uncles, and their children, my cousins. My parents welcomed these people into their home as if they were true family. It was always comfortable and casual—but with a tremendous sense of style. The food was an eclectic combination of Indian, Midwestern American, and some international things thrown in for fun! Petula Clark, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole supplied the soundtrack for these homey gatherings.
As a young child, I remember my parents buying a large piece of Marimekko fabric, stretching it on a wooden frame, and hanging it as artwork behind the dining table. It was economical and added color to the plain walls of university owned housing. My mother also made matching table mats and napkins, so when entertaining, she presented a beautiful table. I still own those Marimekko fabrics from the 1960s.
In 2010, my mother was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. My parents made the very difficult decision to move to my town, so I could help with her care without creating a disruption to my own family as I still had school age children. When it came time to unpack my parents' belongings into a new home, my friends did it all. My close circle of friends were amazing in this respect. They unpacked all of the kitchen items and set it up, hoping that my mom would like the arrangement. It was at this point that I realized that, just as my parents had made their friends family, I had done the same. My entertaining style reflects how I grew up—the people whom you invite into your home are like family, and the relationship is one of comfort.
It is for this reason that I would like to honor those very special friends in memory of my mother with a Marimekko party. It would be a fitting way to continue the tradition of Marimekko that my family holds near and dear.