Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lost the Battle, Won the War

It was one of those days. The last of those rare, unseasonably warm 60* days on the East Coast in November. Usually, it's in the 40s. Since I hold myself to having the house Christmas ready on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I hang (but don't light) Christmas lights on the warmest day that follows Halloween, and though I don't like any of it showing before that day, today I had to make an exception.

I knew that if I didn't at least dress the house with holiday garland today, I would be paying miserably on a 43* day following Thanksgiving. My son and I went to our local garden center, Hamilton Farms, to pick up some garland. It was fun. Before we'd even gone, actually as soon as I picked him up from school, he said, "Mom, turn on 106.7 FM. It's Christmas music." When I asked him how he knew, he told me that his teacher, Ms. Furka, had announced it to the class. He was very excited about this. Our ride was full of caroling, and the whole time he was smiling, asking how many days we had until it was December.

When we returned home with the garland, Johnny jumped out of the car, singing a Christmas song (I forget which), asking to help me decorate the house. I had to pump the breaks. "Babe, you can help Mommy with the garland, but we will wait to decorate the house until the day after Thanksgiving, okay?" He agreed. I laid out the length of the garland, then prepared to light it. First, I plugged in the brand new lights to make sure they worked. They did. I unplugged them and wrapped them around the garland, which I'd doubled up for looks. (I'd actually read that tip in House and Home magazine last week.) Every few loops around, Johnny would cut me a nice sized piece of florist wire to secure the lights to the garland. After the whole 40' of it were wrapped and tied with florist wire, I prepared to drape it over my front door.

It was heavy. Not just heavy, but barely liftable heavy. I had to get it a couple of feet over my head, standing on a step stool, with my 60 lb., nine year old to help me. It fell, time and again, just as I was about to get it secured. People walked by with their dogs, making comments about Christmas, giggling. They must have found it amusing to watch the blonde down the block trying to get the Christmas decorations up.

I'm nobody's fool.

Come hell or high water, I wasn't going anywhere until that garland was up. I decided that the magazine's clever 'doubling the garland' tip was the major problem. It was too heavy to lift, to secure, and frankly, the trim over the door was nearly bursting from the weight. So I pulled the 40' garland back down, clipped the random florist wires I'd tied, and unwound the lights. They kept getting tangled, as the wire is over 100' long. God, I was frustrated. I was balancing on my toes in a squat and kept falling back onto my bum, or forward onto my knees. My hands were covered in a rash from the prickles, and parts of them were even bleeding.

After everything was untwisted, I began again with just one strand of garland. The process went a bit faster; the garland was much lighter. As I made approach number God-knows-what, I felt unstoppable. I'd been outside nearly an hour and a half, and it had gotten dark. Perhaps I'd lost the battle, but the war wasn't over.

Lift, support the left. Good. Lift the center, now support the right. Don't fall. Stay balanced. Good.

I did it. I got the garland up, and comfortably secured. I lit the lights and was astonished at the fact that I'd gotten it all done. Bloody, itchy hands, yes. But for a good cause. I called to my son, who'd gotten bored and gone in the house, to show him what I'd done. He wasn't so impressed.

After going back inside and washing my hands, I opened a package that had arrived at my door. It was a  big, flat box. Johnny begged to open it. We knew it was the stockings I'd ordered, hand knit to my specifications. He really wanted unpack the box so that he could show the stockings to me, to be the one to give me the lovely surprise. I let him. Mine was first out of the box. 'Tiffany', knitted across the top, with decorations across the thick belly of the stocking, and '69' (my birth year) on the toe. Very cool. One by one, we went through them all. Johnny's, Em's, Mol's,W's. Each a bit different. All spectacular.

I paid $50 per stocking, which might sound like a lot, but not for a personalized, hand knit stocking done to my specifications. Just the knitting time alone must be ridiculous. I got to pick the colors, the designs, the size. Mostly, I deferred to the knitter. I wanted traditional red and green, and based on her photos, I wasn't sure if those were the colors she'd used. (Her photos look more brown than red, which may be the actual case. I don't know.) Our colors were perfectly traditional colors, as I'd hoped. Our names were on both sides of the stockings, knit in. Each stocking has a different decorative accent (snowmen, gingerbread men), and are so well knit that I would imagine that even a snippet of air would fail at getting through those stitches. We gave them a test run, hanging them on the fireplace, just to see how they looked, and to take a photo.

Our stockings, hung by the chimney with care.

If you read my   on wanting hand knit stockings for the family, like my mom has, you'd know how much this means to me. At the time of that blog post, I'd thought that I had secured someone to make them locally, but in the end she wasn't able to do it, and I was determined to find someone who would. I turned to etsy and found a bunch of knitters. I convo'd them all, and this particular seller, Nana's Knits, seemed to be most traditional and offered the best personalization options. These are the real deal, the kind our kids will show their grandkids. I feel oh so blessed to have found this knitter, Pam, through her etsy shop. I told my son that we were going to put them back in the box, to receive again as a whole family, all five of us, the night before Thanksgiving.

1 comment:

  1. This is Pam writing to thank Tiffany for her high praise - I am honored to have been chosen to make these - and to explain my idea behind the designs.

    Each person's name has a unique shape of garland below and above the name. Interesting to hear after the fact that you were putting up garland when you received the box.

    Tiffany's sock has packages to repesent the shopping that many women do for the holidays. PEACE because I have found it is often the women who are masters at Peace all year long, not just on Christmas. Emma's stocking has gingerbread girls. My husband and I have 3 daughters who are close in age and each one of them felt like a sweet gift at Christmas. The ornaments represent the fact that many holiday stores offer Baby's First Christmas ornaments on sale for a good reason. Families celebrate that new birth.

    Johnny has wreaths below his name...a sign of welcome. No doubt he was very welcomed by his family at the time of his birth. The snowmen are there to show a kid's love for playing in snow.

    Emma's stocking has a series of 5 packages repeated. She completed the family of 5! The packages are different sizes because each member of the family was a different size at the time of her birth. 9 reindeer are flying around Mollie's stocking (including rudolph with his red nose.) I chose the reindeer because they are associated with gift giving and certainly Mollie was a great gift that year.

    Finally Ward's stocking. Large Christmas trees are found under his name. A sign of preparing for the holiday season. Ho Ho Ho repeated below his name signify the cheer of this beautiful season of the year.

    Hope you enjoy these as much as I enoyed making them for you.