It all started with this stocking....
well this was one of the original nine!
You see many years ago, in 1958, my mom's mother, Margaret had become quite ill.
The diagnosis was leukemia, which led to my grandmother enduring many hospital visits and treatments. While undergoing one of her many procedures...she met a very kind lady who worked at the hospital. Over the days and weeks Margaret spoke to her about her life, her family and her pride and joy...her then 9 grandchildren! There were 5 in our family and our 4 cousins too. She bragged about all of us, as grandmothers do...and they soon became "fast friends".
As the months passed we would come to find out that her friend was on a secret mission! She had decided to make a special gift for my grandmother...the gift of these wonderfully special Christmas Stockings...one for each of her grandchildren. You see this woman found out through their conversations that my grandmother was not a "crafty lady" at all. As she spoke to her about her many sewing and weaving projects, my grandma was in awe of her accomplishments. She hoped that she too might be able to make some of her creations one day. They talked, laughed and made plans.
Time went by and the medical interventions continued. Pills, injections and experimental therapies. There was little known about this cunning disease back then. It soon became obvious to everyone that my grandmother would not survive much longer. In August of 1959 she rejected the idea of one last major blood transfusion that promised to prolong her life for perhaps a month or two. With no insurance and already in debt, she refused to leave her husband and children in an even more precarious state. And so she came home... to die.
Her friend realized that she would have to step up the pace of her sewing if she were to give these stockings to my grandmother before she died. Christmas was just too far away. As the days passed and my grandmother's strength diminished this dear lady knew when the day had come to present her gift. Margaret, with the help of my mother, opened her beautifully wrapped Christmas present with the anticipation of a young girl. For a moment her pain disappeared and as tears rolled down her cheeks, she examined each precious treasure.
The stockings were not quite complete...they were only the tops ...and her friend apologized that the last one made, the one for my youngest brother, was more sparse then the others. But this gift was much more than it appeared. It was an enormous offering of not only kindness and friendship, but a tribute to my grandmother, her life and her legacy, an acknowledgement of each of her grandchildren and the family she bore but would now be leaving behind. This extraordinary woman bestowed a memorable gift to her new friend , the gift of listening...real listening, which allowed sweet Margaret to tell her stories one last time.
After Grandma died, my mother finished the stockings and they were indeed hung with care from our mantle each Christmas. They were like hidden jewels, that seemed to surprise us each year as new intricate details would be revealed. And as we spied their beauty we would each declare "ours" to be the best!
There would be two more children in our family, and my sister, brother and I made stockings for them too so they would be included in our heartwarming tradition of remembrance and rejoicing. There was an unspoken truth that we all felt in our hearts for we knew that our grandmother would always be with us and her friend too. It was odd, but no one ever knew this special ladies' name...but of course it didn't matter...she was simply an "Angel" to us ...and a gift to my grandmother.
My stocking is a bit more "old fashioned" than the rest...and somehow the stockings got a little bigger with each passing year.
This is the stocking I made for my husband, Michael.
He had a huge aquarium back then, hence the fish.
Our twin daughters were the next to be born. My husband helped with this one for Lauren making the house with the sled dropping the sequin presents! One year, Lauren left her stocking out when we went to our friend's home for dinner. Upon our return she was brokenhearted to see that our dog, Rosie had discovered some chocolate inside and chewed through the stocking to eat the treat. The house that my husband made survived, although it had to be transplanted. The trapeze girl did not survive and I had to remake her and much of her stocking. That mistake would never be repeated!
This is twin sister, Shannon's stocking, complete with "Hello Kitty" and a Care Bear. It was the '80's...what can I say?
Next came our daughter, Grace. Hers' is adorned with the "Veggie Tales" characters!
She also loved pigs back then.
So what will come of this tradition. So far all of my kids like to keep their stockings at our home where we all place a little wrapped gift in each one on Christmas Eve. None of them are married, yet, and I wonder, "Will they decide to continue this tradition with their families?"
I can see us making new ones for the children yet to come and for the husbands and wives they will wed. For this tradition will not go easily...It is a tradition that began with the kind gesture of a caring friend and a friendship that although brief in time... lasted forever.
I hope you will start a new tradition this year!