I spent much of Saturday completing the place mats, while watching American football. Hand-sewing is very complementary to viewing footie, especially when I’m not overly intrigued by the teams, just listening to the play-by-play. Stitch by stitch those bindings were attached to the back of the mats, and suddenly the last one was finished. They have been washed, and are waiting to be taken to my eldest daughter’s house on Christmas Eve.
So first a little about these mats; they are fashioned with four and a half inch squares, then quilted with a stitch in the ditch, followed by more quilting in the middle of the squares, then again in the middle of those sections. My initial place mats weren’t even dreamed up as such; they were merely to explore quilting a blanket in more than my usual not-that-quilted manner. But they worked so well as place mats, that’s what they are used for. And as Christmas approached, I wanted to make some for my daughter, for our annual Christmas Eve dinner at her place.
My foray into quilting isn’t the only new tradition. As children age and start their own families, customs evolve too. These place mats will serve us well over the years, and will be added to as more family arrives.
Now, about this lull before the calm… Basically, I am ready for Christmas. Other than getting veg on Christmas Eve, the rest of it sits wrapped under the tree, chilling in the fridge, or hiding in my closet. A few errands need to be run today, but laundry is in the washer and dryer, my kitchen floor has been mopped, cards have been sent, goodies have been baked and nearly all distributed. We’ll drop off a plate at the garage my husband uses when the cars get persnickety, but just about all the loose ends have been knotted together. Christmas is just a few days away, but I’m feeling good about things (especially since the place mats are done, whew!). All I want to do now is relax, letting the meaning of this holiday wash over me.
Yes, there remains the candy cane ice cream to make, stockings to stuff (even big kids like Christmas stockings), red potatoes and cream to buy for the ubiquitous garlic spuds that grace every Christmas dinner (Easter too). Oh, and broccoli. I always serve broccoli, along with my grandmother’s marshmallow fruit salad. Our Christmas meal isn’t elaborate, I don’t want to fuss over it. In my realm, Christmas is about as much peace and joy as one can get.
It’s the fourth week of Advent, the wait is nearly ended. We lit all four candles last night, and I’ll light them again this evening; I love candles, especially these that signify such tremendous anticipation and fantastic expectation. Some years I read Martin Luther’s Christmas Book, but this year I’ve pondered the meaning within my heart, and through my daily Advent readings. And now, three days away, I’m pleased that all the prepping for the holiday is nearly complete. The prepping of my heart is an ongoing process.
Still, this time of year is special, bringing out decorations and Christmas dishes, preparing surprises for those I love. Just between us, my dad is getting a bright orange Giants hat, Mom some extremely orange Giants slippers. These are things they would never buy for themselves, but their love for San Francisco’s baseball team permeates much of their spring, summer, and when we are lucky, the autumn too. Plus, what does one buy their parents? Christmas is a time for deep considerations; a saviour was born into our world, to save us because he loves us. But tangible gifts delight hearts young and old. It’s a time for sharing love, and sometimes a loud orange SF hat translates love just as well as hug.
I’m not always at Dad’s side, but he can wear that hat anytime he wishes.
The place mats are a similar corporeal display of affection, plus they are darn pretty too. The backing fabric is the same on all seven, a sugar cookie recipe, but it’s not an especially durable piece of cotton. My eldest said it frayed badly when she employed it in her tree skirt, and was happy for me to use it up. I managed to get all seven mats backed with it, so this year’s mats will have that thread (ha ha) of continuity. More will be made next year, for additions in the works. But these for 2014 are set, and I am pleased with them. Every year when they are put on the table, my family will think back to 2014, some times being difficult, most of them beautiful. Hard not to think good thoughts at this time of year.
Wishing you all a most happy Christmas! Let the true meaning of this season bring you great calm.