Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Christmas Stockings


                                                                Ecclesiastes 9:10 
Whatever you hand finds to do, do it with all your might…
           Why do I think I can sew?  Let me rephrase that…why do I think I like to sew?
            I don’t like to sew.  Not even a little bit.  But I LOVE hand-sewn things.  I admire people who sew and appreciate very much the labor and talent that goes into sewing.  Before I tell my story, let me give you some background…
            My sister is the seamstress of the family.  I am the baker.  My mother sewed and my sister sewed and they did so beautifully.  Me, not so much.  Maybe that was imprinted on my psyche…”Heather, you should sew, you should enjoy it…what’s wrong with you?”  Not that anyone ever said that to me.
            I never liked sewing or ironing or anything fabric-related.  I don’t even make my bed…because…so much fabric.
            Still, when we lived in Georgia for a year in 1986 – our first year of marriage - I worked at a sewing factory.  Yes I did.  I sewed plus-size women’s clothing…and it’s a good thing because the machines had a blade that cut off the fabric as you sewed and I’m pretty sure I turned some size 24 blouses into size 12.  And, I was slow.  The idea was to move at a pretty good clip.  My supervisor, Winkie - yes, that was her name, did not like me—not even a little bit.  The supervisor was judged by her section’s “production” and I kept our numbers from soaring.  She was on me like a tick.  Needless to say, I only worked there a couple of months and quit (no, I wasn’t fired but Winkie didn’t shed any tears when I announced my departure).  I hated the work.
            I sewed curtains for each house we’ve lived in and when the kids were little, I even sewed them nightshirts for Christmas eve one year.  It was a Jiffy 1-hour pattern.  One hour start to finish the package read.  Shoot, even I can do that!  Eight hours later the first one was done and I was exhausted.  Why did I take this on?  Why?  Maybe it was the loving feeling of wearing something made by my mother that I wanted to duplicate for my kids.  Yes, that must have been it. 
            Fast forward to this week.  My seamstress sister made our family Christmas stockings - two of them are 31 years old.  They’re tired.  They’re well-loved.  They’re on their last legs.  It was time for new stockings.  I shopped around and found some lovely choices but something stirred in my soul.  “Make them yourself,” I told me.  I balked.  “No…it’s too much trouble.” I replied.  “You’ll sew love into them and honestly, how hard can they be?” I teased.  I believed me.  I fooled myself into going to Hobby Lobby.  I was tricked into buying fabric and fur for the cuffs.  I wasn’t sure how to make them but I was going to do it!
            When I got home, I put a call in to my sister.  “Oh, they’re so easy,” she said.  She told me I could do it.  She sounded so confident.  I believed her.  “I’ll come over and help you with the cuffs,” she promised.  And with that, I hung up the phone and cut out the stockings.   Did I mention that I found some lovely upholstery (translate: expensive) fabric in two colors with which to make the stockings?  I did.  And I cut the stockings too small.  When my sister demonstrated how to sew a cuff, I found that my hand would not fit into the top.  If my hand can’t fit into the top, how on earth will SANTA’S hand fit?  It won’t.  And there was the rub. 
            “You can leave them as they are, or remake them,” my sister stated plainly.  Well, duh.  But something I hate more than sewing is RE-SEWING.  Ripping something out or starting over—I’d rather have a root canal. 
            Well, I thought, we’ll just put small things in the stockings and hopefully after they’re put in, we can get them back out.  An exercise of faith.  Yeah, that’s it.
            But I knew what I had to do.  So I went back to Hobby Lobby and bought more fabric and had a nice conversation with the fabric cutting lady about sewing—as if I partook of this evil all the time—and I’m pretty sure she saw right through me.  I brought it all home and let it sit for a couple of days before sticking my fingers into the scissors one more time, taking a deep breath and cutting bigger stockings.  This time my hand fit inside and although a couple of them are still a tad tight, I have faith that someone in the family will be able to fit their hand in and dig out the bottom-dwelling goodies.
            When the stockings were sewn, one more thing had to happen.  Ironing.  The seams had to be ironed flat.  Kill me now.  I don’t iron.  I avoid it at all costs.  Clothing purchases are made based on whether or not the item will ever need to be ironed, even if it is left inside the dryer for an extended period of time (not that I ever forget my laundry in the dryer).  Any doubt of permanent press potential deems an item of clothing unworthy of purchase.  No joke.  So I found and drug out the ironing board and iron.  I commenced pulling out the seams and ironing them down.  I have to admit, it did wonders for the stockings.  Perhaps that part wasn’t as torturous as the rest.  And handing them off to my husband to hang on the windowsill adjacent to the chimney with care, was quite satisfying.  I ironed all six stockings and they hang in a row, looking pretty spiffy if I do say so myself.  I didn’t enjoy making them, but I’m glad I did.  Sometimes the hard things are the most satisfying.  As I sewed, I thought of my family and how much I love them and how much I hope they appreciate these @%#$ stockings…just kidding.  What I really thought about is how much I will enjoy filling them with goodies I know each one of them will enjoy.  Stockings are the best at our house!  I’m glad I remade them in spite of my deep desire to scrap the whole thing.  Lord willing, I won’t have to do it again for another 30 years! 
            I still don’t like sewing, but I love sewing for my family.