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Having a hand-crafted Christmas is setting a high bar

By MIMI BECKER

Coffee With Mimi

Pack up the tree and the trimmings. Take down the yard lights and wreaths. Twelfth Night has passed. Time to move on to hearts and flowers and shamrocks and whatnot.

This season will never be completely out of mind, however. Sometime in the spring, we will discover the ornaments set aside for repair and a bag of forgotten stocking stuffers will fall out of hiding. Buried in the project pile will be the makings of a new holiday decoration which were gathered in the off season. The past off seasons. The idea looked so enticing in the summer when surely it could be finished in time for this year. 

When I married, which happened to be shortly after Christmas, an aunt of my soon-to-be-husband cleverly hostessed a holiday themed bridal shower. I was the envy of many brides as I started out married life with a stock of red tablecloths, holly stitched napkin rings, poinsettia embroidered hand towels and lovely ornaments for a tree still over a year away.

Her logic was spot on. She reasoned, correctly as it turned out, I would have much more to do in that first year of marriage than to consider a festive apartment. All year, I gave holiday decorations and table tops not a thought. I was inspired to start a family stocking collection when I succumbed to a cross stitch kit in the sale bin. Surely I could hang a hand-crafted treasure for my husband by our first Christmas, nearly a year away.

Not so. Three years later, when literally heading out the door to give birth to our second child, I gave my husband the finally completed stocking. It was Dec. 23 and I had been placed on modified leave by my doctor for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had spare time off my feet and on my hands. 

At some point after that, I did complete a sweet stocking for that child born at Christmas. When we hang the stockings along the mantle each year, there are stockings for everyone, and the pets. If we have extra guests, the pets have to share a stocking. There are still just the two hand-crafted products. 

I feel sure there are people out there who are working like little elves all year to have perfect and memorable holiday-themed table covers, gifts and beautiful mantle decorations ready to display and give in December. There will even be an extra day tucked into this year to assist us.

Well, I don’t live in a Hallmark village. I don’t know how they do it. Somehow, an entire village is completely covered in lights and life-sized scenes from the commercial district to the residential streets well before the turkey carcass has been rendered into stock, or tossed in the dead of night. 

Stores are teeming with shoppers who must certainly be finished with their lists by St. Nicholas Day, leaving weeks to bake and carol in a peaceful state of mind. Every sidewalk is shovelled and ready for visitors.

It’s a good thing so much planning has gone into family Christmas festivities so far in advance. It gives the town plenty of time and available person hours to pull off a parade, tree lighting and concert in the last four days before Christmas Eve. At the very last minute, there is always a glitch. A heart-rending issue, or village holiday financial shortfall which threatens the happiness of all concerned is sure to rear its antlers.

In my world, at this point in the holiday timeline, if faced with such a daunting collection of circumstances, I am likely to shrug it off and sit by the fire. I will not ignore those who need special care, but if the town tree isn’t lit by now, I can live with that. 

All that being said, while setting up my semi-dedicated sewing room, I came across a kit for an adorable stocking. I remember this one. Our first child was born shortly after our first Christmas. We didn’t have stockings that first year. It was just the two of us, we didn’t have a mantle and I didn’t get my husband’s stocking finished, remember? The baby wasn’t due until early January anyway. It wasn’t going to be left out. Not a big deal.

While on maternity leave, why not get a jump on that first baby’s Christmas? I found the kit in a sale bin. A cheerful Christmas dinosaur stocking would be just the thing to fill for his first Christmas and hang for years to come. That baby will be 35 this week. We did finally get him his own stocking. We found it in the holiday sale bin at his college bookstore. He was a sophomore before it was hung on the mantle.

Now, that baby has a baby. She is 8 years old. She was born on Christmas Eve. I wonder if there is something on the sale rack which could be finished before her ninth birthday next Christmas Eve. I do have that extra day this year.