I am breaking the rules again, and all of you Queens of the Damned and other Halloween enthusiasts can wag your pointy, gnarled fingers at me. I am ready to talk about Christmas! More specifically, about my Christmas gift to the Hubs this year.
On our first Christmas as smug marrieds, I was stunned to learn that he didn’t have his very own stocking. One used year after year and wrapped lovingly in tissue paper, then protective plastic and cradled in a cedar chest. Like I did. Poor, poor him. My cousins, brother and I all have these amazing stockings, sewn and adorned by my great-grandmother, Grandma Rushing. She was the best. She had a gift for making you feel so special, like you were her favorite person, like you were the whole world.
Like many women of her generation, she had a gift for sewing and embroidery, and she was an amazing up-cycler. You can’t pick up a magazine or get onto the internet these days without seeing the latest crafting revolution that involves someone taking something old and turning it into something completely new. But I have news for you young whipper snappers, hipsters and DIY enthusiasts – resilient women have been doing that for generations.
Grandmother Rushing saved every scrap of fabric she came by and quilted them into beautiful blankets. She turned flower sacks into the most beautiful baby pillowcases you have ever seen, tiny birds and flowers trimming the edges. She canned her own fruit preserves. And though she has been gone from this earth for almost 40 years, I still have vivid memories of her. I loved to brush her white hair, and she kept a closet full of no-no’s to play with. She had play-doh in plastic butter tubs, a million Crayons and paper dolls. Oh how I loved those dolls with their endless outfits and paper fold tabs, sigh! Now, I treasure my felted Christmas stocking with its perfect sequined Santa. My brother’s has glittered fabric and drummer boys. They are priceless, and I think they may have been the last two she made.
A few years ago, I noticed that my stocking seams were coming apart and I had no idea what to do about it. I generally solve most of my fix-its with Super Glue and duct tape. But this time, I wrapped my stocking in tissue and carried it to church with me. On Wednesday nights, the St. Luke’s Stitchers meet to work on quilts and art projects, sewing and knitting. My dear friend Ada Narem was there that night and was so excited to talk to me about my stocking.
The following Sunday, she brought me a huge needle and matching yarn so that I could repair my stocking. Angels sang – as they often do when Ada appears. A retired home economics teacher, she has touched many lives with her can-do enthusiasm, heart for service and gift for leadership.
I have been so encouraged by Ada’s belief in me that I have done the unthinkable. That’s right – I have decided to make The Hubs a stocking this year. Grandmother Rushing used her own pattern for Santa on the cousin’s stockings, then beaded him by hand. I may not be quite ready for that, so I purchased a stocking kit.
I researched for two days. I wanted to find a kit that fit his personality but was appropriate for a novice stitcher. I purchased a stocking suitable for “a 12-year-old to make.” Sweet! Upon opening the darned thing, though, I wondered if I was ready for this. There must be hundreds of beads and sequins and so much colored thread I could knit a pair of socks if I were so inclined. You have to match all the felt pieces to the threads and the beading to the felt. Man. I think what the kit meant was the sewer needs a 12-year-old’s eyes and dexterity. I can’t even manage a French braid on Bodacious.
But I will not be deterred. The Hubs doesn’t ask for much. It is hard to express your love through a material gift because he is the least materialistic person I know. But this “material” gift might be just the one that does it. Grandmother Rushing would understand that he needs a stocking as amazing as mine. Because he is so special to me. He is my favorite person, and he and our children are my entire world. Thank you, sweet Ada, for encouraging me. And thanks especially for that giant needle. I think I am going to need it. And some bifocals.
Wish me luck! And send me your stocking photos! I would love to see them posted on the Bathwater Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BabiesLoveBathwater.