Saturday, December 02, 2006

Homemade memories at Christmas time

My last entry bemoaned my inability to make just the right thing for my girls at Christmas time. I wonder how my mother did it. I am the oldest of five children, all at 3 year intervals. My parents never had much money so they always made presents for us. Our main times for acquiring clothing, including underwear and socks, were Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays. Each chrismas my mother sewed a new outfit for each of us, even matching outfits for our dolls. I remember the year she made me a felt circle skirt and blouse with tucks down the bodice. She made a matching outfit for my doll. She made us pajamas, with matching doll PJ's. She made my brother's GI Joe a Marine dress uniform, complete with red piping and tiny brass buttons. Even when I was in college and then an adult, she made complete outfits for each of us. My sister received a wool plaid pleated skirt, vest and jacket with lapels one Christmas--just what she wanted. the same year I received navy blue trousers, a blue and red checked vest and a white blouse--all hand made.
And, somehow, every year the outfits were a complete surprise!!! For all of us--I never knew what she was making for my sisters or my brothers. Of course, as we got older, one could predict she would make PJ's or bathrobes for the boys. No wonder my mother was always tired!!
When mom had grandchildren, she also made outfits for them, in addition to the ones for us. One year it was matching pink pajamas for the two grand daughters, PLUS hand made pink and white plush teddy bears wearing matching PJ's AND hats!!
And every year, what she made was just perfect in sewing skill and knowing what we would liketo wear wear. She was a loving mother and a genius.
I don't know how I missed her genes. I used to make PJ's and night gowns for my girls but once they got to high school I never could select the right color or style. I keep on trying but often I just am not on the same wavelength. Or, my inspiration comes too late to complete the object before Christmas day. One year I made my mother a lounging jumpsuit that was the ugliest thing ever to be donated to Goodwill after mom had bravely worn it for several years.
My father would also make homemade presents for us. One christmas he made us a ranch house style doll house with removable roof and walls. He found an old wallpaper sample book to accompany the doll house--we wallpapered and re-wallpapered the walls.
Another year, one in which money was really scarce, my dad found an old metal pedal car for my brothers. Problem was, it didn't have any wheels and it was rusty. He removed the rust, repainted the car and purchased new wheels. He kept the wheels in the trunk of the car--where he also put the bags of garbage every Saturday when he made a trip to the dump. (we lived in the countryside, with no garbage pick up service) As you can guess, by mistake, the wheels also got thrown into the piles of garbage in the dump. Dad drove back to the dump the next day to sort through the garbage, but wasn't able to find the wheels! No money to purchase new wheels. I remember my brothers furiously pedaling many, many miles in that little car sitting on cement blocks in the back yard. The car never moved an inch, but they had a great time.

I think I have some old photos of some of the garments my mom made for us. I'll post them in the future.

Meanwhile, I'm knitting away, not confident that I have chosen the right yarns, the right colors or the right styles!

7 comments:

betty said...

wow! gail, I wonder how you mother could do all this!!

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Anonymous said...

Gail,
I love your Mother! What great memdories! I also saw your answer to my question about Amy Anderson's tam patterns. Thanks so much. I had contacted Lakeside Fibers earlier but just didn't know the name of the pattern. I'll order those today. I love Amy's patterns!! I don't have a blog and I'm fairly low tech doing this at work.

Marty
mjh@ksu.edu

Jo said...

Gail, those memories are the best! I had a mother like that too, and I thank her every day of my life that she passed on her love of handcrafts to me.

Being a student in your 50s is IDEAL! Education is wasted on the young! Come over and visit my weblog and we'll talk some more.
Love
Jo
Celtic Memory Yarns

Fiberjoy said...

Gail, Thank you for sharing this wonderful memory of your mother! What a blessing for your family to have such a gifted, loving mother. Your dad sounds great too, digging through the garage heap looking for little wheels.

I think our kids are harder to please with our choice of clothes because they're so label and peer conscious.

Anonymous said...

Gail,
¡Que bonito! Es fant├ístico que tengas todos estos recuerdos, gracias por compartirlos. Un besazo,
Ana J.(BCN)

Susan said...

My mother did similar things. Though she didn't limit her sewing to Christmas, she sewed outfits for the entire family, even making Jeans for my dad. She crochetted many outfits for me, too. She was amazing. I can't begin to compete.

Like you, I need to dig up some pictures and post them on the blog.