Friday, December 19, 2008

God Bless the Beasts and Children......

Stockings for my families with little people

The beasts--3 dogs and 4 cats--these are the ones that live in this city

The country tree, all covered with UNBREAKABLE birds and birdhouses, my siblings and I

Family with "fake" grandkid, now real grandkid

I have 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and had 4 brothers and sisters. Two of my siblings have passed on and my spouse passed away 2-1/2 years ago.

Getting out the Christmas stockings each year has been a bitter sweet experience, and the gains and losses are remembered each year. Of course, the gains have outnumbered the losses in the past few years, with 5 new grandkids added in 5 years. So making the stockings to accomodate the gains has been a challenge, but fun.

I started out with this matching stocking idea about 7 years ago, Christmas 2001. That was the one year we had all of my siblings, all of my children and fiances/spouses under one roof at one time. There were no babies at that time. We lived out in the country, so country styled stockings seemed appropriate. I had two fireplaces and a very long oak stair railing to put the stockings on, so they all could be displayed. The only kid was our future step grandson (dubbed "fake" grandkid--he loved that name!) My 2 living brothers, and my sister and her husband were there, along with fiances/boyfriends/spouses of my children, whatever the status was at the time!

We even had beds for everyone! I had a 3 bedroom house, and a huge family room with 7 couches spread around here and there, plus a big comfy chair that made into a little skinny single bed. That was my bed for the nights we were all together. I think there were 14 people in the house that night, and all were bedded down in comfort, I think. It was so wonderful to have us all together.

So we all had our stockings, just to remember when we were kids, and when my kids were kids and each "hung by the chimney with care, hoping St. Nicholas soon would be there!" Yes, St. Nicholas didn't forget anyone.

This year, the group of stockings has swelled. As you can see, it swelled in one way because of adding animals to the family. Three dogs were added to the group of a family that had always had cats. Some of the cats don't get presents, they live far away, and in one case, there are too many to count, let alone name and give gifts to. They are farm cats, the number ebbs and flows! Sorry, SmokeyBear, the one cat far-away who lives indoors with the family. And sorry to the Oregon cats, that group too has ebbed and flowed this year.

In 2002, we lost one. Uncle Charlie was found dead in his home very unexpectedly, from a diabetic coma. Since he was single, lived on the east coast, and didn't have nosy neighbors, he passed without anyone really knowing how sick he was. And in 2006, we lost Mr. SewWhat. So each of those stockings was lovingly placed back in storage when the time came to hang them up during the past few years, and I know I shed a tear each time I remembered my loved one who we had lost.

This past year, we added grandchild #6. I was fast running out of black velveteen and that red/green check used for the tops of the stockings. But, Mr. SewWhat's name had been made part of the new grandchild's name, it is precious baby boy's middle name. What better way to make a stocking for him, but to recycle his grandfather's, and add the baby's name to grandpa's name. Clever, but I was wondering how we'd all feel seeing that each time we passed by.

Well, while trying to embroider his name next to his grandpa's name, things didn't exactly work out as I had envisioned, so I just turned the thing over and embroidered the baby's name on a different part of the fabric. But if you turn the stocking inside out, you will see Grandpa's name, and we'll all know and remember him as we enjoy that precious little guy who just joined the family.

Now, St. Nick has the joyful task of trying to fill each of those stockings! What a delightful task that will be!

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