The parcels are wrapped, the cakes and puddings are made, I’ve done all the work that I planned to this year and I’ve cut yards and yards of fabric for next year’s sewing projects as part of my Christmas gift to myself of time. I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about the people who won’t be here this Christmas because that’s what we all seem to do as the days get shorter and darker, isn’t it?
I remember my dad saying that there are three stages in life. You believe in Father Christmas. You don’t believe in Father Christmas. You become Father Christmas. So now I am part of the older generation even though I don’t feel as wise and brave as I was sure that my parents were, so maybe they were just very good at bluffing? Either way, it’s time to remember so many things.
My current sewing project is to mend a quilt and then embellish it with crazy quilt stitches to strengthen it. My mum and I chose the fabric for it together online while she was in an isolation room while she had a bone marrow transplant that sadly, didn’t succeed. I sat and sewed it and then quilted and bound it while we talked t about anything and everything while my amazing husband held the fort with our two young children because that way I could go in in the early morning and after dinner.
I’d smuggle in fish and chips when she still felt like eating them and drop off chips to the nurses, so it probably wasn’t the sort of smuggling that my husband’s ancestors would have known. And all the time I wanted to make the most of every single minute and yet at the same time I knew we were being selfish wanting to keep her with us. It was on her bed as a splash of colour in a white room and there with her when she died so it’s come dangerously close to being loved to death.
So now my plan is to make the pattern she chose more than sixteen years ago in fabric colours that we both love and using everything I’ve learned since to make it my best work. Then I shall make a crazy quilt using the same fabric and embroider it with things that remind me of her. And I shall smile and probably shed the odd tear and celebrate a life that was over far, far too soon because she had so much to give and so wanted to live.
Will anyone understand why I’m doing it? I expect other crafters will, because they’ll understand the healing power of making something beautiful. The Dear Lord knows I don’t need any more quilts, but I do need the escape and the mindfulness that I find when I sew or garden or bring order to a tiny bit of this sad and disordered old world.
So whatever you’re celebrating, or if you’re not celebrating at all, I hope you find a few minutes this week to do something that makes your heart sing and eases painful memories while creating new ones. Because one of the many things that my mother taught me was that women are the foundation stone of the home. If we have nothing left to give then no one else can have a happy Christmas or any other time. That means that it is so totally our duty to indulge ourselves just a little but, so please, try to have fun even if sometimes there’s grief and fear to go with it…
Today’s picture is my completed Christmas star quilt. There are 725 cross stitches in each star and there are 72 embroidered stars and 81 quilted ones. And yes, I did mean what I said on Tuesday about not liking ‘quilt in a day’ projects. I’ve sewn that outside in the garden and down on the beach and while chatting to friends. And now I’ve quilted it and it’ll be on my bed, just as that quilt was on Mum’s. And someday, I hope the memories from it will help my family too when I’m not here to care for them in the flesh.