Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hang Another Hook on the Mantle

Let your love be like the misty rains, coming softly, but flooding the river. 
Malagasy Proverb

The night before the night before Christmas, I stayed up until 3am. Not because of cards to address, food to prepare, or presents in need of a bow.  No, nothing as easy as that kept me up two hours past my bedtime. Something much bigger. I had a Christmas stocking to finish and time was running out.

Granted, I have procrastination tendencies and time does fly away while I'm listening to the birds sing. But I hate when I'm time crunched and finishing this stocking was important.

Years ago when my husband and I married, he had the Christmas stocking his aunt had knit for him and his siblings. His brother's wife, Cathy, and I decided we each wanted a knitted one also. We found a store where we could purchase a stocking kit and we learned how to knit.

We often swore while searching for lost stitches and comparing progress.

Where Cathy was more prone to the detail work, like sewing on sequins and outlining, I seemed to be the more apt knitter. Hard to believe, I know. When her daughter was born, we discussed the stocking tradition. After inquiring as to how many kids she planned to have (I had no intention of ever having any) it was decided that I would do the knitting and she would do the adorning.

Five more stockings and many years later, my oldest son brought his bride to our fold. I ordered a kit and found my knitting needles. Not having knitted one in 19 years, I wasn't quite in sync. I didn't know for certain if my daughter-in-law, always most kind, indeed didn't mind that her stocking ended up ten inches longer than everyone else's. Or much wider. Note to self: Read the directions on needle size.

Will full intention to redo that stocking one day, I asked my husband to spread the hooks out on the fireplace. With his precise engineering head, he got out his measuring tape, his sticky note pad, pencil, and all his swear words.

Looking at this photo seems I've had a consistency problem more than once. What can I say.
Early last year we received the delightful news that the middle son wanted to add a stocking to that fireplace.  He had fallen in love and a lovely woman had accepted his offer of marriage.

Elation on my part. After three brothers and three sons, my woman numbers were increasing once again.

For an exciting engagement gift, I gave his fiancee a Christmas stocking kit, then immediately took the gift out of her hands. She, a beautiful knitter herself, could certainly have done much better work than me, the cursing needle fumbler. But getting a stocking on the mantle had become a right of passage in our clan. I would do the honors once again.

I began at once, impressed with my early start. Somewhere along the line, the project got buried under several New York Times Book Reviews, a few unread books, a blanket and a box of Kleenex and all the other goodies that are stockpiled beside that chair I live in.

When stuffing the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers into my mouth brought the realization that it was time to decorate for Christmas, panic struck me.  Ten months had passed since I last knitted a stitch on that stocking.

I rummaged around in the basket to find the project. I feverishly poured my soul into the knitting. Twenty, twenty-five hours or more I knitted through a massive color change mess to make my future daughter-in-law her own special stocking.

When I began the toe section, it dawned on me that something was amiss. I held it up to the others. Where the other six had the foot going to the left, this one went to the right.

I cried. My husband said it was okay. Just to finish it. That no one would notice.

Yes. No one will notice that six stockings point one direction and one points to the other. No one.

A frantic search for the same kit ensued. A week and a half before Christmas (when no one has anything to do) I received it by mail, reversed the pattern, and worked at a pace that had I been running I'd now be skinny.

My ultimate goal? That on Christmas Eve when the family gathered there would be seven stockings hanging on the mantle -- all facing the same direction. In unity.

Back to 3am on the night before the night before Christmas. I finished the toe and off came the stocking from the knitting needles.  By 7am I was up and sitting in bed double stitching the name


onto the cusp. I mattress-stitched the sides together and yelled at my husband to get the hooks rearranged.

Just let me say he didn't quite understand my vigor. For the middle son and wife-to-be were not even coming for Christmas Eve. They were in New York City spending the holiday with that youngest son, the Bama Chef Boy. But, dammit, her stocking was gonna be hanging on Christmas Eve.

It brought me great pleasure to send Leigh a text photo of said stocking hanging with the others to let her know just how much we welcome her to our family.

Yup, wedding coming up in June. Which also means I need to enlist that gaggle of friends to drag me to do my favorite thing -- shopping for a dress.

Long-time readers of this blog may recall my enthusiastic attempts at choosing a dress for that oldest son's wedding. You can recall it here and here. And, yes, I have the same problem -- I still ain't got no tits.

More overwhelming than the thought of shopping is the reflection of how could this beautiful child that was just born yesterday be 27 and getting married?

Even more overwhelming is that such an incredible young woman will share his life.

Nope. That's not the dress.

Welcome to the family, Leigh. We love you.

Tales of shopping to come.


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