I am not a Christmas shopper. Ever. I make most of the gifts I give. I TRY to be done well before Christmas. I have been known to make fun of people who put it off until the last minute. I have never been a fan of wasting the final hours before the big day crunching Christmas presents like college exams. To me, that totally destroys the entire meaning of Christmas.
So perhaps I deserve what Christmas 2016 became...
A week before Christmas, my adopted daughter informed me she had arranged a meeting with the adoptive families of her first kids a couple of days after Christmas. She invited me.
I have prayed seven long years I might be able to have a relationship with those kids. I have longed to be a grandma. I have longed to be their grandma.
I set to work making hats.
I made one each day on the train during my commute to and from work, and after the fifth hat was done, I was extremely excited to be done and happy to have Christmas weekend to focus on my husband and unfinished quilts.
I even had time to whip up two bandanas for The Lizard and get them wrapped and under the tree without him seeing!
At 3 a.m. Christmas Eve, while experiencing my typical sleeplessness, I remembered one of the adoptive families has children of their own. Certainly the other families might have other children, too.
I come from a blended family. I have fostered nine children. I know what it feels like to be left out. I wasn't about to miss a single kid. Tiny little kids don't understand why some kids get presents on Christmas and others don't. Yes, life is not fair, and Christmas isn't about presents, but life can be a lot better if everyone could be more considerate of others, and Christmas is about love. I have the opportunity to be an influence and an example. I'm not about to waste it.
I knew about three additional children, so I went to work on three more hats. I raided my basement yarn stash, literally a store of yarn. I was very thankful I had not given away ALL of my stash several years ago to a senior center in Colorado Springs where crocheters make items for Wounded Warriors all year long from donated yarn. The irony of "shopping" in my own personal "yarn store" on Christmas Eve did not escape me.
I asked if my daughter could find out how many kids, and specifically, how many boys, along with how many teenagers, would be at our meeting. Boys and teenagers might not like hats with monkey or bear ears or cute little yarn tufts.
I finished the three extras on Christmas Eve and had time to make two blocks for an orphan block quilt I'm trying to finish before the end of the year. Again, the irony of my Christmas Eve project theme tickled me rainbow.
Christmas Day came my answer... 16 kids altogether. My heart literally skipped probably that many beats, and I'm not sure I breathed for a few minutes. I had eight hats finished. Could I finish eight more in two days??? And would I ever want to see another hat again as long as I live???
We counted about five snowflakes falling gently to the ground while we made our way to church. We had talked about taking a short drive to the mountains after church to find a white Christmas. Supposedly, the ski areas were being hammered by the Christmas polar blast. I wanted to take Christmas snowflake photos for future inspiration. But the five flakes on the prairie floor would have to suffice for my white Christmas.
I made one hat during church. Yes, I am a proud needle-carrying member of the CIC and KIC. I never craft during prayers or sacrament, and I try to be aware of people around me who might be distracted by my needling. But most of all, I listen. I take mental notes, and I include them in my journal. I enjoy doing something meaningful while listening to meaningful messages. People knit and crochet while they watch television. To me, this is no different, especially when the yarn worker is on a mission...
I finished three more hats on Christmas Day. I didn't do anything but make hats on Christmas Day. I felt like I was never going to want to make another hat ever. But don't worry, I say that about snowflakes all the time, especially while working on intense projects such as my snowflake lamp.
I had Monday off, but my dear husband did not. I went to work right away on the remaining hats. By the time I finished the second one, I was so bored with hats, I wanted to hide and skip the next week. But then I remembered I did do something on Christmas Day after all! I had made a hat while my husband and I were on the trainers! We can bike in the basement when the weather is bad by setting the bikes up on rollers, turning on some really motivating rock and watching one of the spring classics such as the Tour of Flanders or Paris Roubaix with the sound turned down. I learned several years ago I could knit or crochet while I pedal because there is no traffic, there are no potholes, and I don't even have to worry about my balance while I'm on my trainer! The Lizard literally rides in place on his trainer, but my bike is held in place, and my trainer takes all the crash worry out of me!
For the previous two weeks, I'd been using Charity Miles, an app on my phone I'd learned about via Road Bike Rider ezine, for every ride, every trainer session and every walk to the park and ride. The phone's motion detector is not very accurate when I'm on the trainer, logging an average of 1.5 to 2 miles for every 15 miles I pedal. But it is on the nose when I walk. Why not crochet and walk?
And just how many miles does it take to crochet a child's hat from crown to start of ear flaps? For me, 1.915 miles. So one of my hats resulted in a charitable donation toward the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I think that's pretty darned cool!
Of course, I practiced in the house first, walking around my kitchen island through the dining room and around the ottoman in the living room. I logged an additional half mile for charity, and walking in the house was a wee bit more challenging, getting slapped in the face by one stem of a hoya plant every time I walked by and avoiding the slippery obstacles on my floor... namely the snowflake rug and the quilt blocks currently in progress.
After finishing what I thought was the last hat, my husband and I took a short ride up Waterton Canyon, a well-deserved reward for all the hard work and boredom!
At the end of the day, I counted my finished hats. I didn't know how I had done it, but I had only 15 finished hats. It was getting late, and I needed one more. I almost cried.
My husband put on "The Hobbit" and I sat down with a skein of white yarn and started another hat. I finished the ear flaps and reached over into my crochet basket for the blue yarn for the edges, and there hiding was the now 17th hat, another white one I'd forgotten stashing there before our ride so I could edge it in blue when we returned home. I still didn't know how many boys and how many girls or how many teenagers. I'd made a selection of hats with no ears and no tassels, and I tried to make a few hats in colors either boys or girls might wear.
Now I had two unfinished white hats. I edged one in pink and one in blue. Nothing wrong with having an extra hat. Better than being one hat short.
As it turned out, all the kiddos were 10 and younger. All the hats are gone. My adopted daughter quickly claimed the extra hat.
In the end, it was worth every stitch, every worry, every tear. Seeing all those kids in their hats made up for everything. Seeing my new grandkids in hats I made... well, there are no words!
Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.