Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nostalgic Handwork



Way back when in a land far far away, I was a young divorcee with two 3-year old boys.  To say we were struggling is an understatement, but we were.  Christmas was coming and we didn't have money to pay the electric bill, let alone get a Christmas tree or anything else.  A gentleman in the warehouse where I worked heard of our situation and asked if I'd mind helping him cut down a tree from his parents' farm.  He came over that cold December Saturday and picked us up for the drive.  It had been an old apple orchard that was being planted with pines and firs.  We found a nice little tree, he cut it down and tied it to the top of his car and we drove back home.  He bought us a tree stand, too and got it all set up for us in our living room.  Bless his heart.

Well, there we were with our wonderful, but bare Christmas tree, and the boys were thrilled.  They were so excited with the hopes of Santa visiting soon and placing their presents under this wonderful tree.  They wanted to decorate it and put an angel on the top and bake cookies and sing carols right then and there.  I promised them we would, but Mommy needed to get the ornaments first and we would decorate the next day after they got back from their Dad's.  My dilemma...no ornaments, no lights, no angel.  My neighbor loaned us a strand of lights, then we went shopping.  I took our food money and went to the drugstore where I purchased 6 sheets of felt for a dime each and 2 packages of sequins for another 20 cents.  I had some embroidery floss in my sewing box and some old beads, and used some pictures of ornaments out of a magazine from work to make a template.  All day I worked on these felt ornaments and I had about 12 done when they came home.   That evening, the same neighbor brought over her cookie baking supplies for us to use along with a skirt for the tree.  It was a really beautiful night that I'll always cherish  We hung those 12 ornaments and baked cookies and sang well past everyone's bedtime. 

That was 35 years ago, and those 12 ornaments have dwindled to 9 over the years with the love of 2 more children and several pet cats and dogs.  This year as I took the ornaments out, I decided to repair the missing eyes and sequins and trim up some of the frays.  I went to my old sewing box, and there I found those 35 year old packages of leftover sequins and the remaining sheets of red and yellow felt, even the old beads.  The green felt had been used for something else, but I had some other green felt.  I made 12 more.  Of course, it took me a lot longer with 35 years age on the eyes, but I did it with as much love.

A Christmas tree is more than a holiday decoration, it's history.  It's the very best form of history.  There on our tree hang a few ornaments that I hung on the tree when I was three years old.  There are lots of those yearly school projects the kids made.  There is an ornament my best friend made me.  An angel a coworker made me.  A couple my daughter-in-law made, and all the ornaments that each child picked out every year to buy....a tradition.  Yep, that tree can't possibly hold all the ornaments we've accumulated through the years.  I find those fancy ones we've bought at the store from time to time don't make it out of the box anymore.  It's the old collections.  And yes, those 9, now 21 simple homemade felt ornaments. 

11 comments:

  1. That is a story about Christmas spirit, and about inspiration! I am so glad that people were able to help pitch in. Merry Christmas to you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is the most beautiful post I've read in the year that I've been blogging. Thank you so much. Did Santa find your boys that year?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Antoinette and Julia, you're so sweet to say so. Yes, the boys did get a little something that year from me (Santa) and their Dad and of course both Grandmas and Grandpas came through. They never knew in just how pinched conditions we were in. To them, it was all good, and that's the blessing of it always. As I recall, we spent Christmas day popping corn and making popcorn garland, too, when the thrill of the toys wore off. I remember struggling with them to keep control of the needle and thread since they were way too small to push the needle through safely by themselves. You know, in looking back, it's what we did during the lean years that are the dearest of the memories.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a beautiful Christmas story! Thanks for reading my blog, and I"m glad you posted. Like you, I'm not much for new year's resolution, but this year I am really going to try to get my food habits in line with good nutrition.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nancy, Thanks for visiting and commenting. I'm so glad you liked my little Christmas memory.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your story really touched me. I grew up with a single mom and there were a few years where we couldn't even make the ends meet. There were plenty of kind people like your co-worker who helped us out with their kindness.

    My favorite ornaments are the ones I have from childhood...especially the handmade ones. We started a tradition of making ornaments with our daughter each year.

    Thanks for filling me with inspiration today!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've received so many warm and kind comments from this posting. It's so nice to hear from you all and thank you for your warm thoughts and kind words.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for sharing this ... I'm glad you re-posted it. Re-telling a great story is Christmas at its best!

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a heart warming Christmas. As a divorced mother of 5 I can certainly relate. Thanks for sharing, it brought tears to my eyes, but tears that represent something wonderful! BTW, the ornaments are beautiful! Love the handiwork and the colors.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a beautiful Christmas story! We should never forget the real meaning of Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Karen, what a beautiful story. Sometimes the most joyful moments are when we have the least of materialistic things. I had tears in my eyes as I read this lovely post. It brought back lots of memories of my own. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us!

    ReplyDelete

Love Comments. Please share your thoughts.....