My sweet mother had a difficult relationship with Christmas. She loved the idea of it, and she loved all our family’s traditions — she created many of them, after all. But Christmas also tended to disappoint her sometimes, especially when it wasn’t picture-perfect. In a family of nine, things were rarely picture-perfect; we didn’t notice, but she did.
When we were growing up our parents created a magical time for us every year, and Gig’s creativity and ingenuity were woven through the season — themed Christmas trees, pfeffernüsse cookies, actually-delicious fruit cake, beautiful arrangements of greens and decorations that filled the house, a Christmas morning that was staged as carefully as a Broadway theater set — and often, there were gifts she made herself.
My mother loved to sew. She sewed for most of her life; her mother was a seamstress as well. She made most of my sisters’ and my clothes when we were growing up — in the early 1960’s she made my sister Sarah and me two beautiful Easter outfits that included reversible linen coats — and she kept at it long after I was grown. When the grandchildren began arriving, starting in 1970, she kept sewing, and she concentrated on Christmas.
Each year seemed to have a theme — I wish I could remember them all. The nightgowns and footie pajamas, stick horses, teddy bears, pillows in the shape of letters for each child, shiny stuffed fish. There might have been dinosaurs, and there must have been others that I just can’t remember.
In March, when I came home from Gig’s memorial service and that short but amazing visit with my entire family, something began to take shape in my knitter/auntie/crazy-woman brain. What if I were to knit something — some little something — for those nieces and nephews, and their children, the way Gig had sewed for them? Just because I love them. I would be casual about it, and I would knit throughout the year. Things I might want to knit anyway, with yarn I probably already had. My Family Project began.
So I knit things all year long. When I finished, there were seven scarves, five pairs of mitts, and fifteen hats. For my family, and their families and beloveds — for Melody, Sylvester, A’Court, Cynthia, Susan, Ava, Lindsey, Chris, Oliver, Emily, Kylie, Jacob, Amy, Sophie, Sam, Dylan, Will, Rachel, Rebecca, Ben, Angela, another Dylan, Varan, Valerie, Kaiden, Robin, and Matt.
Visit the Family Project Flickr page.
On this Christmas morning I am imagining my family, all opening their little packages, smiling as they remember how much Gig loved us, and I hope they know how much I love them. And wherever you are, whoever you’re with — and picture-perfect Christmas or not — I hope this day is filled with love that wraps you up in a warm hug.
“Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.”