saint nick time

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As usual, I don’t know where the month of December has gone. This time, it’s not because I’ve been caught up in a mad holiday frenzy. This December was entirely sane.

I shopped almost entirely online. We decorated minimally. We haven’t been out and about socializing. One bitter cold tromp through historic Upper Canada Village, alight for the night, was the memorable exception.

Quiet dinners. Snugly grandboys. Café conversations. Lots of small but solid connections. Some writing. Lots of reading. Not much to prattle on about, perhaps, yet totally satisfying.

I did, however, venture forth in knitting. I wanted something new for the grandboys; enough of the hooded sweaters! I scoured patterns at Free Vintage Knitting, Knitting on the Net and Knitting Pattern Central until I hit upon a Santa hat that seemed just right … with a few modifications. It seems I can’t help but adjust a pattern, as if a recipe. Hmmm.Turns out that cooking is more forgiving of my tweaking than knitting.

My first hat worked up as a tiny elfish touque that shot off Ollie’s head like a rocket launching into space. I hoped against hope that it might fit Henry, five months younger. Nothing doing; it was quite a comical sight. Oh, GiGi! The wide white brim fell well above his ears, pom-pom bouncing jauntily from the stiff peak, as if his head came to a sharp point underneath. It’d be the perfect fit if he was off for the Island of Misfit Toys.

Several modifications later, I managed something almost useful, a bit too large. Finally, I found ear flaps and chin strap on yet another hat pattern and adapted to help snug it up. It’ll do. Now I better get knitting for a grandgirl! (Did you read Ollie’s tee-shirt?)

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Meanwhile, I’d taken up with burlap, thanks to my friend, V. For weeks I was scouting instructions and collecting supplies around the North Country, inspired by Top This, Top That designs. Six weeks, six rolls of wire-rimmed burlap, and six attempts later … Voilà! Three wreaths to enhance our home. Yes, I know the math doesn’t quite work out. Burlap works well if you’re a mussy sort. It took some doing (and undoing) to get comfortable with that.

20131222-190827.jpg Which brings me to the penultimate project: two newly repurposed ornaments, safely nestled on our tree. They are vintage Christmas bulbs that once lit my own family’s holiday. They came in lovely shades back then — sea green, regal blue, gentle gold. There is Christmas red, of course, and an orange unlike any other. I love these light bulbs! I have only a few left.

I salvaged them years ago to create ornaments inscribed with the scriptural names of Jesus. This year I used my gold pen to record grandbabe’s name, birth information and “First Christmas 2013.” Tied off with a gold ribbon, it’s a simple reminder of an important first in a long string of firsts this first year. Oh, how much fun with wee ones!

I have one more small project before yuletide preparations are complete: photo ornaments of the grandboys. It’s a tradition. Every year since our youngest was born I hung a small group photo of our chids on the tree. I also made or purchased four matching ornaments — one for each chid and ourselves — and dated these as well. When each chid left home, it was with aChristmas starter set of ornaments under one arm.

I kept the group photo ornaments chronicling the growth of our family. I kept a matcher to most of those the chids carted off. As a result, putting up our tree is a sweet stroll down memory lane. Nearly every ornament has a story. The Hubs teases me to remind him, ornament by ornament, until the box is empty and the tree is full.

The photo ornaments are a priceless addition to our collection.There is an eclectic assortment of angels, another of birds, from all over the world. There are fragile painted eggs and exquisite blown glass. There are figures of humble felt, plush velvet, and cross-stitched fabrics; of wood, glass, ceramic, paper and plastic.

Some were collected in our travels. Others were gifts from family, friends, even acquaintances. Many are clearly homemade. Few match but, nonetheless, the effect is truly lovely. Most importantly, we can’t help but be thankful, remembering those who matter most through ornament story time.

So. I never did get our Christmas letters ready this year. Or make a photo memory book of Alaska for the Hubs. I’ve not done any wrapping! Or … sigh. But I have no real remorse. What is done is what I needed to do, apparently. The few finishing touches remaining will be done in the nick of time: Saint Nick time!

Merry merry, to you and yours.

~ René Morley

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