Have you ever had a penpal?
When I was in fifth grade, our school started a program to pair kids from Ft. Worth, Texas, with students from around the world.
I didn’t know anything about Finland when I began sending my letters to a mysterious young girl named, Anika. All I could imagine about her is that she was always surrounded by snow.
Every few weeks we would exchange letters. She had perfect English.
I remember that her father had been in the military and that she had the neatest little handwriting. We wrote to one another for years and then as life became more complicated our correspondence petered out.
Although Anika and I no longer send letters to one another, I still feel like I have a penpal.
Writing blog posts and filming YouTube videos gives me the same feeling. I’m connecting with a friend, no matter how far off.
Longest WIP in History
I’ve told the story about my Handmade Christmas stockings before. I made each one for my children’s first Christmas.
They were from a craft store kit and were made of felt pieces. When our first child was born, I made the stockings for my husband, myself and our little girl.
I put lots of time into the details of each one and proudly hung them on our mantle every Christmas.
Then when we had our second child, I began the next stocking. This time the stocking was properly put together, but mostly with hot glue.
I didn’t have the time with two small children to worry about hand stitching anything.
When our third came along just two years later, I grabbed my sewing machine and seamed his together, hot glued the pieces on and called it a day.
By the time the fourth was born, I just went out to the store and bought his at Walmart.
It’s been a visual history of our family, but one that always made us laugh.
My second daughter made a comment last week that maybe we should think about buying new stockings for everyone. She wanted to have a nice handmade one but knew that it was unlikely that I would ever finish hers. Even at twenty-three years old, she still has a bit of that little girl inside.
But it made me think……hmmmmmm….maybe I should start working on those unfinished stockings and make them extra nice this Christmas.
Blanket Stitch for Days
Since all the pieces were securely in place (thanks to my hot glue gun), they only needed decorative stitching. The easiest and most obvious was to add blanket stitching to everything that could be blanket stitched.
As I got out all my beautiful embroidery floss, my mind started filling with all the ideas for how I could make these stockings look beautiful.
For my daughter’s, I added her name to the top, little red buttons all over and a red and black buffalo check ribbon to finish off the details.
I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.
Now I am working on my son’s and I am hoping that I will finish it by Christmas Eve. And I have so many ideas for how to make his special as well.
I find it funny that I’m working on unfinished projects from over twenty years ago, but it feels just as satisfying to get them completed nonetheless.
Recently I became the proud owner of two vintage stockings. They were both made by my grandmother for my mother and my uncle. She stitched them together when they were little children back in the 1940s.
But guess what….. my mother’s stocking was never finished. One of the felt pieces was secured on by just an embroidery needle. It wasn’t glued or stitched on at all.
It makes me giggle to think about how much my grandmother and I are alike. Even though she has been gone for over twenty years, looking at those stockings reminds me that she was once a busy young mother with too much to do to worry about finishing a Christmas stocking.
Handmade things are so very special to me.
While I love making things by hand, I also love my possessions that were handmade by others.
On my Christmas tree I have several handmade ornaments.
The latest addition to my collection is a custom ornament from Jennifer Mathis Handmade.
Jennifer makes the most beautiful things, from project bags, to knitted scarves. She recently added custom Christmas ornaments and I could not be more pleased with mine.
It is a picture frame with a photo of Olive, our rescue cat. It is beautifully made with a pretty little Christmas tree in the corner.
When Jennifer sent it off to me as a gift, I could not have been more touched. Although my own kids are grown, I count my fur babies as part of the family.
The Christmas Star
The Great Conjunction was last night and to say that I was excited would be an understatement.
If you have no clue what I’m talking about, the short story is that it was a once in a lifetime cosmic event. The planets Jupiter and Saturn would come so close together as to form one massive looking star.
For it to happen during the week of Christmas was extra special to me this year. I was reminded of the account from the Bible where the Three Magi were guided to the Christ Child by the magnificent star in the sky.
For hours before I felt like this was going to be my little Christmas miracle. That somehow it was going to be a great moment, no, a magical moment on a cold dark night.
My two boys and I drove to a local business that we had heard would have a great view of the celestial event. When we didn’t see it there, we hurriedly drove to a public park near my mother’s house to see if we would discover it there.
As we shivered in the cold we grabbed our Star Chart app on our phones to find the exact location.
It seemed that it was covered by trees so we ran from one end of the dark and cold park to the other in hopes of getting a better view. At least I was getting some exercise.
Once that failed, we jumped back in the car and went to a local regional airport that was at a higher elevation and parked at the end of the runway. No luck.
There were plenty of other stars in the sky, but no Christmas Star that we could see.
We all came home and I began to feel a bit deflated…. that’s a lie. I was feeling downright sad. I had missed my Christmas miracle.
But as other people began sharing photos of the Christmas star on social media, I began to realize that we had seen it. We noticed two stars in the sky, and while they were close together, it was nothing like we had imagined.
This began to make me feel even worse that I had actually been staring straight at this unique even and had absolutely no clue.
As I pondered this unfortunate event, I began to feel like maybe there was a message for me anyway.
Maybe, just maybe, there are miracles around us, but we fail to see them.
We scream to the heavens, “I NEED A MIRACLE!”
While we are looking all around, running from one place to another, the miracle is there.
Quiet and unassuming.
This Christmas, while the world is so very different and full of disappointments, I will be looking for my little miracles and I hope you will too.
May this Christmas be full of light whether your loved ones are near or far.
May your heart be full of hope whether your troubles are small or large.
Merry Christmas dear friends.