This afternoon Marlene finished her 19th Christmas stocking, thus completing a project that started 42 years ago. She made the first stocking when Josh was one year old. She made stockings for the two of us, and then she made stockings when Mark and Nick arrived. Then a long gap of more than 20 years until Josh married Leah. Soon thereafter, she made one when Mark married Vanessa. As the grandkids arrived, she made each of them a stocking. Along the way, Nick married Sarah. So one thing led to another, and now there are nineteen stockings hanging above our fireplace.
They came in this order:
1980: Josh, Ray and Marlene
2013: Penny and Violet
2015: Hannah and Zoe
2020: Norah and Eliza
You can spot Noah’s stocking (the newest one) at the end on the right side of the lower row.
The first five were done in crewel, a kind of embroidery with yarn. The remaining 14 were done in counted cross stitch. All I can add is my admiration because I have watched her work untold hours across the years, often taking the projects with her when we traveled to Florida, Oregon, Maine, New York, and New Jersey. They have hung above fireplaces in Illinois, Mississippi, Texas, and now in Kansas. While she was stitching away, sometimes she would stop and say, “Look how this angel is taking shape” or “See how the outlining makes the wings pop out.”
Though it involved thousands of hours of careful stitching, Marlene would say it was a labor of love. To me it is the work of a lifetime.
So far as we know (although you never know for sure), the next stocking will await the arrival of the next generation some years down the road.
I don’t know that we’ll be around for that, but until then this will suffice as a reminder of God’s goodness to our family across four decades.