Sandy Lane, a local accountant and mom to three boys, wrote a guest blog for momaha.
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As I watched people shuffle out of Target today with shopping carts full of purchases, I was reminded of the best Christmas gift I’ve received. And it wasn’t plastic or made in China. I was also reminded that today’s version of the last-minute-holiday-rush is a far cry from the days when I was a child. There were no gift cards or Wal-Mart runs for that special loved one. At least, not in my family.
Our annual Christmas tradition was to spend Christmas Eve at my grandparents farm. Our last minute fire drill included my mom frosting her homemade pastry wreaths and then carefully topping them with candied cherries and green sprinkles. Our gifts, mostly homemade or sentimental, were already wrapped and labeled; ready for the five mile drive to the farm.
The farm was always bustling with activity when we arrived. The out-of-town relatives were arranging their gifts as the in-town relatives were working hard behind the stove. As the aroma of turkey and potatoes filled the air, there was always a mad rush to clean and make room for both dining and gift opening. We had a relatively small area to work with and many bodies as my mom had eight siblings. None of us minded as we excitedly cleared off space by the piano knowing our aunts would soon entertain us with Christmas carols sang in harmony.
My fifth Christmas was the year of receiving my favorite gift. This year was like most with my aunts working on preparing food for the masses, while others piled boxes into bedrooms revealing new seating spots we had forgotten about. This year was different as my Grandma was missing from the fray and the den was avoided during the cleaning process. My aunts would secretly slip into the den, spiking my curiosity. I was told to stay out, which only spiked it more. I could hear the hum of my Grandma’s sewing machine and knew there was some frantic project underway.
Right up until the time for gift opening, my grandma stayed behind the den door. As the gifts were passed out and only when it was my turn did my grandma emerge from the den with much anticipation. In her arms was a doll. It was a stuffed doll, half the size of me, with yellow yarn hair and carefully sewn blue eyes. She was dressed in a calico skirt with suspenders, yellow tights, and black leather shoes. As Grandma handed me the doll, I looked up at her asking the question with my eyes “for me?”
“Yes, for you. Merry Christmas,” Grandma said with a huge smile stretched across her face.
I was fascinated with this beautiful doll my grandma had made just for me. I knew that her efforts behind the den door were for the details that made this doll extra special. My grandma was meticulous in detail when she sewed or cooked. She would research and plan to get the exact product she envisioned. The shoes struck me immediately. The homemade doll had flat feet pointed up that required specially made shoes. My grandma made them using real black leather with riveted shoe holes and white laces.
“What are you going to call her?” Grandma asked beaming with pride on her creation.
“Paper!” I exclaimed.
I have no clue where I came up with Paper. It was the first thing that came to mind and I blurted it out. So Paper she was and I loved her. Grandma later made a matching doll for my Aunt Kathy and more coordinating clothes for Paper. Her wardrobe included quilted gingham bib overalls with an embroidered blouse, jammies, and lace dresses.
I played with Paper so much in the years that followed that her neck ripped at the seam. I went to Grandma in tears thinking Paper’s days by my side were gone. Grandma saved the day by sewing a sequined thick band around her cloth neck securing it for future fall-outs. Paper looked like a modern day Audrey Hepburn and I was pleased with her transitioned grown-up look.
I still have Paper to this day. She sits in my art room next to Sadie, my homemade dog. Grandma made Sadie for me the following Christmas. Other than a corduroy patch under his hind leg, Sadie has aged nicely as well.
With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I am thankful for a grandma who shared a love that came with a homemade gift. Although I was never tempted with I-Pods and video games in the 70′s, I am quite sure Paper still would have won the battle as all-time favorite.
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