Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Jan. 14, 2011

The stockings were all sewn for Christmas with care

When daughters Mariya and Katie asked us what time we'd be opening gifts on Christmas Day, husband Art, tongue in cheek, told them "Oh, about noon."

While they're long past the stage of waking up at the first sign of light to try to catch a glimpse of Santa and now consider "sleeping in" to be a gift in itself, they were hardly in the mood to wait that long.

And I wasn't either. I was as excited as the girls used to be when they were little. Art laughed at me, asking if I realized they were adults now.

"Of course I do," I said, "but that doesn't mean I can't fill their stockings and give them special gifts from Santa."

Smiling, he shook his head. He knew I was hopeless.

I was even more excited than usual because we had three additional "kids" to help us celebrate the holidays - Mariya's partner Lacey and our "adopted" German daughter Nadja and her boyfriend Tim.

Some 30 years ago when my late husband Jerome and I were early in our marriage, college roommate Deb - a wizard with needle and thread - had made us red and green quilted patchwork stockings with our names appliqued on them. In subsequent years, she added stockings for Art, Katie and Mariya.

So when I asked if she could make one for Lacey, Deb - always willing to help - obliged. But it wasn't so easy this time to find material to match the others. She had sold most of the Christmas fabric and trim from her crafts business last summer. So she had to search the stores around Wichita to come up with a stocking that resembled the others. The quest led her on a merry chase.

"I did have some quilted fabric to use on the body - the only piece of that kind of fabric I've seen in years - and I saw some last year and grabbed it.

But I forgot that the patches for the toes and heels need cotton Christmas fabric - and I sold all mine at the garage sale last summer. And at this time of year, the stores have nothing left. SO - I had enough scraps of quilted Christmas fabric to make those ...

THEN I realized by looking at the old photos of the stockings you sent me last year that I finished the top edge by using eyelet lace. I sold that in the garage sale, too! So back to the fabric stores and all I could find was white lace. Nothing the cream color - which is what would look best with the fabric used. I did find some wide cream ruffle - I worked with it and managed to get it to work for the top of the stocking.

Whew! I think it should look decent enough with the others. I ended up only using one color of rickrack on it too because of the color combinations. I used one of the fabrics from Mariya's in this one for Lacey - I tried to make the colors coordinate so they'll look good next to one another."

I asked if she could make stockings for Tim and Nadja, too, but she just didn't have enough material. So what could we do for them? The best I could find that were about the same size and shape were two quilted velveteen stockings - a red one for Nadja and a green one for Tim.

But we didn't have to worry about Nadja. She remembered to bring with her the stocking we gave her in 2005, the year she lived with us and was a student at Riley County High School. I had a seamstress stitch "Nadja" on one side and her nickname "Smitty" on the other.

But we still needed to personalize the green one for Tim. Art stopped by the sewing section in Walmart and bought some fancy red trim. He used it to fashion the letters to form "Tim" and then sewed it onto the stocking.

Now that everyone had a stocking, all I had to do on Christmas Eve was fill them - an orange, apple and candy in each along with stocking stuffers.

Just as the sky was beginning to brighten on Christmas Day, I crept out of bed and down to the fireplace where I completed my Santa work. Then it was back up the steps and into a nice warm bed.

A couple of hours later, we all were awake and were kids once again. All seven of us scampered down the steps to the fireplace to see what Santa had brought. The stockings and special gifts from Santa were all big hits.

But for me, I think the best gift of all may have been knowing just how much love and effort had gone into "the stockings (that) were hung by the chimney with care."

Left, daughters Mariya and Katie with their gifts from Santa in 2000; right, Lacey, Mariya, Katie,
Nadja and Tim pause for the camerawoman before they check out the contents of their stockings.

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