Last Christmas I made "Love Boxes" for all of my kids...I decorated each box to express each one's taste and personality and then the challenge began...snooping and spying for email addresses and cell phone numbers and secretly requesting love letters to include in the gift. The notes came via email, text messages and snail mail. In the end their boxes were filled with inspirational love notes that included stories, thoughts and memories that each person wanted to share about them.
The "Love Boxes" turned out to be the best gifts ever... my children were overwhelmed with tears of joy and surprise as they opened their Love Boxes and read their notes.
It was enormously fulfilling for me as I saw how blessed they were by the kind words from friends, co-workers, grandparents, aunts and uncles...each note was a tremendous surprise.
This Christmas I decided to make a "Love Box" for my best friend, Marsha!
She too expressed tears of joy and disbelief as she read each note and became aware of the authors. We all shared her delight as she read them one by one and once again I was the real recipient of the "gift" as I witnessed the love expressed in each word!
The Love Boxes don't end there....as notes, cards and letters are received throughout the days and weeks to come they can be added to the collection...and on a day when it seems the sunshine is dull and the laughter a bit quiet ...the box can be opened up, the letters read again and a hurting heart restored!
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 firstborn son, Sean's stocking. He loved the "bird in the cage" and his special "angel queen"!
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.
Finally we got our daughter, Taryn in 1994. She has always been a "dog lover"!
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! Merry Christmas!
My Birthday started out with this most generous and fabulous gift from my husband.
When I opened this bag from Nordstrom...this was hiding inside!
Needless to say...I was quite surprised.
My hubby knows how much I love purses (they are like jewelry to me!) This new Burberry Handbag is just scrumptious! I love it, honey!
Inside the purse was a gift certificate for a "Manicure & Pedicure" at my favorite salon, a gift card to Starbucks and another one for Border's Bookstore!
I felt like a "Princess"!
Then we headed off for our adventure...
First things first....I had to get my free Starbucks cup of Coffee! Every year I go to Starbucks and tell them it is my birthday and they give me a drink for free! Thanks Starbucks! (Well...they get enough of my money the rest of the year)
The we began our drive to Camas, Washington. It was a gorgeous drive...not a cloud in the sky, snow on the mountains and a chill (18 degrees when we started out) in the air!
Camas has such a quaint downtown...with darling shops and restaurants.
This is their "Old Time Theater" with the town Christmas Tree!
Our final destination was"Camas Antiques"! I have been wanting to visit this lovely shop ever since I heard about it from a fellow blogger .
It is a wonderful place, filled with Vintage & New Lovelies!
Christmas is in "full bloom"....complete with a sweet little Christmas tree with edible sugar cookie ornaments from a local baker...I believe I ate three of them!
I was so excited when I came across the booth of my new blogging friend, Tracey, fromNotes from a Cottage Industry. Tracey has recently moved to Washington and she has opened her own booth here! You must go visit her blog and hear her story! She is so talented and sweet! Her journey is inspiring! Your spot is lovely, Tracey! Congratulations on your new venture!
Macaroni Grill in Downtown, Portland was next...to enjoy appetizers with my daughter, Grace who goes to school, works and lives downtown!
Our next stop was "Sushi Train" with the rest of my kids...where I was presented with a special birthday sushi platter...on the house!
We ended the evening at the home of my twin daughters where my favorite dessert (especially at this time of year) "Cranberry Bliss Bar" from Starbucks was awaiting us along with streamers, decorations, my niece and her fiance, even more gifts, hot cider and much laughter!
I have the best family ever...and feel extremely blessed! My birthday could not have been any better!
The icing on the cake was returning home to all of your kind thoughts and wishes waiting for me on my blog...I truly savored each one!