Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Past and Christmas Present

Stephen, Becca, David, Sarah and Laura in 1989. Mary must have been in bed sleeping since she was a baby.
Thanks to Bonnie Hunter, I've had quite the trip down Memory Lane! Bonnie set up a Holiday Linky Party on her blog and even though I usually only post once a week, I decided it might be fun to join in. After reading her message, I went around the house, snapping pictures right and left of all the quilty Christmas decorations. But then I thought it might be more fun to focus on just a few that are most meaningful in our family. And I thought I would start with Christmas stockings.

As a kid growing up, I was the oldest of 9 children and money was always in short supply at our house. I don't remember any particular disappointments at Christmas, except for our Christmas stockings. We had these large stockings that every Christmas morning were virtually empty--usually only holding a small gift, some nuts, an orange and a candy cane. When I got married and began having a family of my own, I decided that Christmas stockings would be different at our house!

In 1980, I had just given birth to our second child, Rebecca, and I wanted to make new, homemade Christmas stockings for our growing family. I found a pattern that I thought would be perfect (thanks to the internet, I found that it was a McCall's pattern #7225). I knew I would have more children and this particular pattern could be made from different fabrics for each member of the family, but still be basically the same. So that year I made 4 stockings.

Over the years, our family grew until we had all six children and with me and Charles, that made 8 stockings. I was done having children, and therefore done making stockings (or so I thought!) and got rid of the no longer necessary stocking pattern.

Although we didn't know it at the time, it was our last Christmas with all the kids at home--Sarah, Becca, Stephen, David, Laura and Mary
As our children have grown, Christmas stockings have become a very important part of our family Christmas tradition. Every year, we open our presents one by one and then everyone gets their stocking at the same time. The stockings are always stuffed, and with a variety of gifts (none of which are wrapped, by the way!)--candy, of course, crayons, socks, toothbrushes, razors (as they've gotten older), flashlights, pens and pencils, small toys or other trinkets, calendars, videos, etc. Just little things that I've picked up when I've been out shopping.

My grandson, with the next generation of stockings!
Eventually the kids grew up and began getting married and moving out on their own. Imagine my surprise when requests started coming in for stockings for spouses...and then for grandchildren! Since I no longer had my original stocking pattern, I had to trace a new one from one of the stockings we already had. My two older daughters actually made some of their own family's stockings, but when the boys got married, their wives and children needed stockings too. And so a family tradition began...and continues to this day! Becca has been working on a stocking for her 6th child--due in April--figuring she'll be too busy NEXT Christmas to make it then! This stocking will be the 25th in our family!

After 24-30 years of use, our original Christmas stocking had become a bit old and ratty-looking. So a couple of years ago, I made 4 NEW stockings for the four of us still here on Christmas morning.

The fun thing now is that I can make stockings that relate more to the interests of its owner. Can you guess what Mary's great love is?! Meanwhile, I'm still stuffing those stockings absolutely full on Christmas Eve...and everyone still looks forward to what they might find in their stockings!

In addition to making our stockings, I also eventually wanted a homemade tree skirt. Unfortunately, in looking back over our Christmas photo albums, I couldn't find any pictures of the tree skirt I ended up making because it was always covered up with all the presents for our large family. But one year as we were decorating the tree, Becca grabbed the tree skirt, wrapped it around herself and began dancing! So here is our tree skirt--on our daughter, rather than under the tree! I wasn't a quilter back in those days, what I did was cut an old sheet into a circle and then stitched leftover squares of fabric from our stockings on top of it. Then I hemmed it and added rick rack around the edges. We used that tree skirt for MANY years. But I wanted a new, NICE tree skirt (the other one was only supposed to be temporary!)

I found this pattern that I liked so much that I ended up buying it TWICE! Finally, this year I got it made and I just love it (sorry, I don't have the pattern information with me right now.) And the old tree skirt? Mary wouldn't let me toss it, so this year she's using it under HER tree!

One more "story" before we go...When I was a young married woman, my sisters, sisters-in-law, Mom and I decided to exchange homemade Christmas ornaments each year. With 10 of us exchanging ornaments, it didn't take long before we all had PLENTY of ornaments, so we quit exchanging. This particular ornament was one I made in 1989. I downscaled a pattern from a magazine for a door knob hanger, so this little "Joy" ornament is only a few inches in size. Just below it on the right is a cute button tree that one of my daughters-in-law made this year.

However, when my kids married and began decorating their own trees, they wanted more decorations, so the ornament exchange began again. This year I made these paper-pieced ornaments. They were a lot of work, so I probably won't do something quite so involved again. (The one on the left is ours--I accidentally cut the doll's hair. It reminded me of Laura and her occasional "surprise" hair cuts, so we had to keep this one!)

There were actually 4 different ornaments that I made, but I had already given the "truck" ones to their recipients. All the effort in making them became worthwhile when I found out that of all the ornaments on their tree, 17 month old Linus only wanted the "truck!" He would take it off, carry it around a while and then hang it back on the tree in another spot. Warms a grandma's heart to see her work appreciated so!

Last, but not least, here's Laura in her room (you can see two different calendars hanging on the wall, just in this one photo!) posing next to the little Christmas table topper she made, with her little battery-hungry tree sitting on it. She's so excited for Christmas to come tomorrow!

And Laura and I want to wish each of you a VERY joyous Christmas--wherever you are and whatever your circumstances, remember to take a few minutes to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas--the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!


  1. I love Laura's Christmas tree. Merry Christmas, Gwen and Laura.

  2. Oh Laura, what a cute tree skirt you made! Merry Christmas to you and all of your family--keep on sewin' love those Stockings and the story--thanks for sharing such wonderful family moments with us...hugsx2 Julierose

  3. What fabulous memories! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  4. This was such a fun post :) Merry Christmas to your family - we're still in Christmas mode until New Year's Day over here.

  5. I loved reading your stories :) Happy New Year! Cindy (quiltingpansy from SQT)

  6. Thanks so much, Cindy! Happy New Year to you too!

  7. I enjoyed your post here as well as on Stashbusters, thanks so much!