Once upon a time. Our lives are memories stitched together into a narrative. Often readers send me their stories and I have selected a few to share with you during this holiday season.
Marilyn Johnson, from Gilford, sent me a note after I had written about tradition. Her letter was an enchanting recollection of an almost 40-year-old Christmas box. In 1981, her mother and father gave her a Christmas present in a traditional shirt box from a department store. Marilyn kept the box and returned it to her mother the next year with a gift and a thoughtful tag. The exchange began.
Year after year after year the box would be carefully packed away and then returned, always with a special, usually handmade, tag. As Marilyn’s mother grew older, she asked her to store the box. It survived six moves and two states, yet could always be found at Christmas. The signed and dated tags chronicling their lives were also kept. The year Marilyn made potato stamps to print cards, wrapping paper and tags or when her children wanted Charlie Brown to be the theme. Marilyn’s mother, now a young 100-years-old and still living alone, will receive a gift from her daughter in the box she first wrapped for her decades ago. We can only imagine the sense of memory, time and love that this simple box contains for Marilyn and her family.
Kate Donahue, a poet from Holderness, sent me a poem entitled, “Gift of a Hand-knitted Blanket.” She knits afghans for friends and family from a pattern for a Bulky Knit Cable Afghan. When she completes and wraps the afghan, she includes the poem. I’ll share a fragment with you.
I give you memories of women
holding spindles in one hand,
fixing wool in the clefts,
fingers on their other hand drawing
strands of carded fleece to whirl,
circle, drop, and twist in synchronized rhythms.
Maryly Matthewman, from Meredith, knits Latvian mittens, something she has been doing for over 12 years since she retired. She discovered the pattern for Latvian Mittens in a book written by Lizbeth Upitis. Now her own mittens have been documented with the New Hampshire State Council for the Arts and pairs have been sent to Latvia to be blessed. “Where do your passions come from?” she asked me in her note.
This is a Christmas that will be memorable for what it is not. Choral concerts, festive gatherings, traveling to be with family and dear friends. Perhaps this is the Christmas to begin a tradition. Visit Hobby Lobby for ideas about the possibility of things that can be made, boxed, framed, stitched.
If you knit you might stop by Lamb’s Ear Yarns in Gilford and look at their wide range of yarns and colors, many with a distinctive New England focus. The Harrisville yarn is spun in Harrisville, New Hampshire, the Green Mountain Mohair and other Green Mountain yarns are spun in Putney, Vermont. If you are not a knitter, Sue Greene and her staff can work with you to find an easy-to-understand pattern and tutor you about how to begin.
This holiday season shop locally. There are lovely shops in Laconia. Melissa McCarthy and Jayson Twombly at the Studio on Main Street can work with you to select creative and special gifts. And their distinctive eye and creative energy is worth a visit.
Sunflower has baskets, bracelets and unique gifts, in addition to their jams, breads and foods that are always welcome. Purchasing online doesn’t come with a warm smile, a friendly voice and you know a longing to just give you a warm hug and embrace.
Where do my passions come from? Stories. Memories. This Christmas, not surrounded by family, I will share many of our traditions with neighbors and friends, sharing the joy they have brought me. This is, afterall, a Christmas like no other. I’m going to make it memorable and filled with love.
You can follow Elizabeth on Instagram at elizh24 or send her a note at: email@example.com She is an author and journalist. Her books include: Ned O’Gorman: A Glance Back, a book she edited (Easton Studio Press, 2015), A Day with Bonefish Joe (David R. Godine, 2015), Queen Anne’s Lace and Wild Blackberry Pie, (Thornwillow Press, 2011).