Handmade Christmas – 12.7.14

Personalized Nutcrackers - Marilyn Sickels
Personalized Nutcrackers – Marilyn Sickels

This Advent Sunday – 12.7.2014 – I was of service…

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev’rywhere you go;
Take a look in the five-and-ten, glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.

I started the morning at my Mother’s house.  Sometimes she needs help moving things from place to place so that she can do more.  My Mom is one of the most talented and hardworking people I know.

Upstairs it was all candy canes aglow.  Downstairs was another story.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
Toys in ev’ry store,
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
On your own front door.

So, I spent the morning moving boxes, organizing shelves, as my friend Christina would say, “Turning piles into files…”  Out the front door I went with 20 boxes, discarded bags of all kinds, bags and bags of trash.

A pair of hopalong boots and a pistol that shoots
Is the wish of Barney and Ben;
Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk
Is the hope of Janice and Jen;
And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.

I love how my Mom says, “We”.  This used to annoy me, but now I find it endearing.  “We need to find a place for this…”, “We need to make some order out of this.”  We found 20 pair of no longer useful hopalong boots and shoes.  We found discarded toys, school bookbags and boxes of books.

Now that we have moved boxes out of the way and cleared a path in the middle of her basement, a craft zone has emerged.  This feels familiar.

My Mom is a very talented person.  Growing up, she made our clothes.  She made my skating costumes.  She had a business making amazing skating bags out of quilted fabrics before Vera Bradley even existed.  I remember her staying up all night long while I was a teenager waking me up to go skating and she had never slept (trying to fulfill orders from skaters all over the country for bags before Christmas).  I would give anything to have one of those bags.  Fortunately, I do have some of her hand-beaded skating costumes.

Now, she makes necklaces and earrings out of beautiful beads collected over the years.

The zones of the basement include beads, sewing, painting, planting…

Growing up, there was always a project at Christmas.  Throughout my house and the homes of our relatives, my Mother’s handiwork adorns many homes.  Hand-painted Santas with historical details; painted angels; ornaments made with tinted glue and gold thread; amazing glittering ornaments on my tree including angels, a country stagecoach, santa, elves.

The best Christmas craft was making personalized nutcrackers after my sons including their current hairstyles, soccer balls and numbers on their

Talent flows through our family tree.  My Aunt sent us quilted hand-made gifts each year.  Her tree adorns a table in our family room.  The woven wreath is on the back door.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev’rywhere you go;
There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well,
The sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow.

Later in life, cookbooks were the project.  Collected recipes from family bound in special notebooks wrapped in red taffeta, embossed with gold foil and held together with gold and red cord.  I still turn to that cookbook at the holidays.

I brought my Mom a ham-bone when I arrived (promised after our Thanksgiving ham).  Throughout my visit, the aroma of ham and bean soup filled her home.

My Mom’s current talents are around food.  Canning in particular.  the shelves of her basement are lined with soups, stews and sauces of all kinds.  I’ve learned if I spend a few hours, I might get to savor one of her creations.

Over some of her canned (the Mason jar kind) amazing tomato soup, we had a serious discussion sharing our perspective over some of the things our family has gone through in the past few years.  We differed in perspective, but we aligned on a commitment to move ahead.  She reminded me of the goodness in places and people where I’ve found it challenging to see the good.   I respect my Mom as a Mom.  And for her good thoughts.  And for her talent.

It feels good to do good.

 It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the bells will start,
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart.

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