12 Christmas Stockings

post date: December 18, 2013

We had been married about five years when Marlene decided to make stockings for each member of our family. Back then there were three of us–Marlene, me, and Josh who had just been born. She found a pattern she liked and proceeded to go to work, using a style called Crewel. When the first three stockings were finished, we hung them on the mantle in the parsonage in Downey, California. Years passed, other children came along, and she added stockings for Mark and Nick. We hung those stockings above the fireplace in Garland, Texas and later in Oak Park, Illinois. For a long time, there were five stockings–and only five.
Then Josh married Leah and Mark married Vanessa. Soon thereafter the grandchildren came along. First Knox and then Eli. This year we added two more grandchildren and our soon-to-be daughter-in-law Sarah. That meant Marlene had to make three stockings in one year. Each one takes at least 100 hours of stitching. All summer long I watched her work on the stockings. They traveled with us to Maine, Oregon, New York and New Jersey. I saw her stitching away everywhere we went. Sometimes she would stop and say, «Look how this angel is taking shape” or «See how the outlining makes the wings pop out.”

Then Josh married Leah and Mark married Vanessa. Soon thereafter the grandchildren came along. First Knox and then Eli. This year we added two more grandchildren and our soon-to-be daughter-in-law Sarah. That meant Marlene had to make three stockings in one year. Each one takes at least 100 hours of stitching. All summer long I watched her work on the stockings. They traveled with us to Maine, Oregon, New York and New Jersey. I saw her stitching away everywhere we went. Sometimes she would stop and say, «Look how this angel is taking shape” or «See how the outlining makes the wings pop out.”

When it became hard to find Crewel stocking patterns, Marlene switched to counted cross stitch. I am at a loss to explain the difference, but you can see the difference if you look at the later stockings.

Last week we traveled 5400 miles, driving to and from Tupelo and then flying to Cannon Beach, Oregon. By then Marlene had finished the needlework on Penny’s stocking, but she still had work to do on the stockings for Violet and Sarah. She was absolutely determined to finish them in time for our family Christmas celebration this weekend. On our way home from Portland she stitched while I read a book. Yesterday she attached the backing, added the loops at the top, and then hung the three new stockings on our mantle.
Thus the work is done, at least until more grandchildren arrive. It is a labor of love on a project that started 34 years ago. Now we are ready for Christmas to begin.

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Ray Pritchard
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