The mug pictured isn’t my treasure, it belongs to my sister. It does allude to an apparent family legacy that I do treasure, however — rumor has it that our German roots can be traced back to the original brewers of Becker Bier (Brauerei Becker) in St. Ingbert, Germany. Becker’s became a Carlsberg brewery in the 1990s (I think), but I’m not sure if it’s still around. I’ve never tried it. Maybe someday…
I was an avid reader as a kid and loved a lot of the stories around Christmas. I still have this Little Golden Book version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I remember having a storybook for Twas the Night Before Christmas. I also enjoyed reading the various Christmas stories in book series like Little House on the Prairie.
This is post #10 in the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.
My Christmas morning “Red Rider BB Gun Moment” came when I was 16 years old. I had always wanted a TV of my own, but I never even bothered to ask — I could list the litany of reasons this was a bad idea on my own, without prompting them from my mom.
So, when I saw the TV box with a bow on top nestled under the Christmas tree that year, I just figured it was for my mom’s room or for her office. As my sister and I took turns reaching under the tree for gifts to unwrap, I didn’t give that one a second glance. No way that one was for me.
After the last of my gifts had been unwrapped, I remember being pretty satisfied with that year’s haul. But I don’t recall what else I got that year because of what transpired next. My mom pointed in the direction of the TV box and said, “Aren’t you going to open that one?”
“WHAT? For me? Are you serious?” was all I could say. Many “thank yous” and “I don’t believe its” then followed. It dawned on me a short time later that I knew exactly when my mom had gone to buy the TV — two days after I had picked her up from the hospital following surgery on a herniated disc, I chastised her for trying to go Christmas shopping with a friend of hers. In one of those role-reversal moments, I scolded her for trying to overdo it as she hobbled out the door. I even offered to go pick up whatever it was she was going to buy — of course, she turned down that offer.
The TV was a 13-inch — puny by today’s standards. But I spent many a night watching bad made-for-TV movies on it (we didn’t have cable). It then saw me through college, serving me and my college roomies well for our movie marathons. I still have it, though now it requires a special converter box to hook it up to a DVD player. I almost gave it away when I moved earlier this year, but there were no takers. I’m glad I hung onto it after all.
This is Post #3 for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.
Being of German ancestry and having lived in Germany not once, but twice, my mom was partial to German glass Christmas ornaments to decorate our tree. I still have many that I remember hanging on our tree when I was little. They are so delicate, it’s hard to imagine how they’ve lasted this long. Below is a more recent acquisition.
Though not a glass ornament, I’m partial to this little guy myself:
When I was preparing last week’s Treasure Chest Thursday post, I came across a set of two tiny buttons in my mom’s sewing basket that I hadn’t found before — each bearing the face of Beatrix Potter’s Tom Kitten.
My mom was an antiquing aficianado (read: eBay addict) and I can only imagine what was going through her head when she spied these. All I know is that when I was three, my parents gave me a copy of The Tale of Tom Kitten, which I still have to this day. For all I know, Mom meant to give these to me and either she lost track of them herself in her sewing basket, or she didn’t get the chance to give them to me before she passed away in 2003.
Either way, I’m so glad I found them, all these years later. Finding them caused me to pull out the book, read my parents’ inscription to me and discover the Tom Kitten bookmark still embedded in its pages. The book lover/genealogist in me goes gaga over inscriptions and lost/strange bookmarks. Rediscovering them in my own books is a thrill.
My Mom’s Sewing Basket!
I have so many memories of my mom and this basket — its contents bring them all flooding back — the shoelaces, spools of thread, different types of needles and the dozens upon dozens of buttons.
I remember my mom pulling out this basket to hem my school uniforms and to sew labels inside my summer camp clothes. It still contains snaps from the baby doll clothes she sewed for me and my sister.
One of the relics inside is a metal Band-Aid box, used to store some of the many buttons my mom collected over the years.
One of the spare buttons she saved is labeled “Palm Tree Dress.” My mom was not a dress person, but she did own one that she wore to all the big occasions — an aunt’s wedding or a cousin’s christening. That was the Palm Tree Dress. I pictured it immediately as soon as I read the label on this package.
Still more memories were triggered when I found this Walt Disney World Resorts sewing kit — obtained during our stay there when I was nine. The kit appears untouched — click on the picture for a look at the contents. They were thoughtful enough to include a Band-Aid for pricked fingers!
My post this week is about a treasure of very personal sort — more than a decade in the making (and it’s still not finished!). Back in high school, I started saving scraps of denim whenever I turned a worn pair of jeans into a pair of cut-off shorts. I originally planned to make pillows out of them. In college I learned to quilt, and so the denim scraps that had been piling up for years found their purpose.
During winter break of my senior year of college, I started piecing together the first square. That was nearly 11 years ago. The quilt is a sampler (each block is a different pattern) and I accented the denim with pieces of other clothing. One block has pieces of the dress that I wore for high school graduation. Another includes flannel from my grunge days. Over the years, I obtained used pieces of clothing from friends that they planned to discard — some thought I planned to wear the dresses/shirts myself. Others knew I was really going to cut the material into strips for quilting.
Now, some of the quilt’s blocks contain pieces of a shirt from a college roommate. Other blocks have a floral pattern from a dress a former coworker and dear friend gave to me. I love the quilt all the more for the people and times that I recall as I work on it.
After I finished piecing the blocks I bought yards and yards of thin denim for the borders on the top of the quilt and to make the backing. The top, backing and a thin layer of batting are basted together and I’m in the quilting stage right now. The quilting is also sampler-style, with different patterns along the border and in each block. The layers are so thick, and the quilting needle I use is so long and sharp, that I must improvise a thimble using a metal spoon in order to protect my fingers.
The quilt is queen-size and completely covers me as I work on it. It is so heavy (mostly due to all that denim) that I can really only work on it during the winter. It’s actually been several years since I did so (like many things, it took a backseat to grad school). I’m determined to get back to work on it again now that the weather is turning colder. It will no doubt be several more years before I can finally finish the edges and call it done. Not unlike a scrapbook, it documents nearly half of my life thus far. Every stitch has been done by hand. It is my opus.
Customs officials, take note that this post is based on legend and not necessarily fact.
My maternal grandfather was an Army officer and was twice stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, with his young family. On one of these tours of duty, family lore has it that my grandmother, Grace, became besotted with a begonia of such beauty, she simply had to have one of her own. And when it came time to make the journey back to the United States, that begonia was coming with her, come hell or high water.
Her solution: to smuggle cuttings of that begonia in her suitcase — amidst her unmentionables — during the journey (by boat, no less) back across the Atlantic.
To this day, nearly every female member of my family has at least one descendant of that immigrant begonia potted on a windowsill or taking root in in a jar. One of my aunts is rumored to be coddling no less than 32 cuttings at any given time, to ensure the line doesn’t die off.
This particular begonia plant produces tiny, delicate pink flowers on a rather irregular basis (at least according to my own experience). Here is a picture of buds my plant boasted earlier this summer.
After my mom died, I found one tiny begonia bud preserved in a flower press among her possessions. I included it in a scrapbook I just completed about her (pictured here with what I think is a Gerber daisy flower — these were her favorite).
There is no doubt that my entrepreneurial spirit comes from my mom. She was a stay-at-home mom for most of the time that I was in school, but she created a workshop for herself in each of the houses we lived in. In fact, the house we lived in from 1985-1994 was chosen specifically because the basement level afforded her enough room for a workshop and showroom space for her fledgling business.
She sold a variety of crafts over the years, everything from room boxes done in miniature (she could recreate a dollhouse version of any room in your house based on a photograph), gift baskets, country-themed wooden pieces like the ones pictured here, Tole painting, tiny dioramas molded out of clay — the only art medium that I never saw my mom make money off of was photography.
I’m so glad that I have some of her handiwork — I’m including a couple of examples of wooden pieces she decorated for Halloween now that it’s October. I have similar pieces she did for Thanksgiving and a couple of Xmas ornaments as well.
Each of my aunts and many of my friends have pieces that my mom created. At one point, she would paint a person’s pet or house from a photograph to scale on a piece of wood cut into the correct shape using a jigsaw — when my best friend’s cat died in high school, my mom painted a wooden replica of Tabby from a photo I happened to have.
I’d like to think I may have inherited some of my mom’s talent, or at least the desire to work with my hands. I can’t paint as effortlessly as she could, but she always encouraged me whenever I expressed an interest.
I’ve thought about my mom an awful lot over the past couple of months as I have launched my own business. I marvel at the courage she had as a single mom to pursue her home-based business as a way to support our small family, stay at home with us and do what she loved.
I treasure the pieces pictured here not only because they remind me of my mom and how talented she was, but also because they inspire me to follow in her footsteps and make my own way doing what I enjoy most too.