A stocking full of joy

When I was a young girl, I don’t even remember what age, other than it was when we were living in the house on Fuller Street, my mother spent a Christmas or two working on a felt Santa kit from Bucilla. It was just his head, with an enormous white bear and a funny little mouth tucked under his mustache, and we spent what felt like hours and hours and hours sewing on sequins to that vast expanse of beard to emulate frost-tinged curls and tufts.

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I think I fell in love with Bucilla during the time we worked on that Santa head.

Up until then, I had always loved and admired my grandmother R’s fabulous quilts, my grandmother D’s beautiful handpainted ceramics, and my mother’s many art projects… and known, deep in my heart, that my own efforts could never, ever compare to the beautiful creations of the women around me.

I was not the sort of child who had a lot of self confidence, especially when it came to things artistic.

But Bucilla… they were exactly the sort of company that my girlish insecurities needed. They did all the hard part for you! They designed it, they picked out the perfect sequins and threads and felt, and they put it all together in a shrink-wrapped package just waiting for you to begin. They even included the needles. As long as you could follow the written instructions, you would end up with an end product just as fabulously perfect as the one on the package.

And as a child, I was nothing if not good at following written instructions. Anything written on paper was practically my BFF.

Fast forward to a decade ago or so–13 years, to be precise–and a fierce desire to provide our new little man with his very own Christmas stocking. I must have shopped for weeks, never quite satisfied with what I found in the stores, before I wandered in to a craft store that had a display of Bucilla stocking kits.

I poured over the plastic-wrapped packages, my heart finding joy in the simple shapes and straightforward-looking embroidery, and thus began what would turn into a decade-long love of assembling stockings for the many children in our lives, and my brother and sister, too.

The first stocking I made:

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Over time, the patterns I chose drifted towards the more complicated end of the scale. Then, after taking Sharon Boggon’s classes on embroidery and design, I started using the patterns mostly as a jumping off point, embellishing them heavily and drifting further and further away from the packaged design. When I look back now on that first plump Santa climbing into a chimney that graces K’s stocking, I smile at the memory of pride and joy and know that first effort bears so little resemblance to the stockings I make now.

The second stocking I made:

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But through all these years, The Man We Call Dad and I have been using store-bought stockings. They’re lovely, don’t get me wrong, but when the kids pointed out that everyone we knew had one of my stockings except for me and The Man We Call Dad, I realized it was time.

As I mentioned a week or so ago, The Man We Call Dad’s stocking was finished sometime this summer and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

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