Angela Nowicki

December 2017

Several years ago, our family decided to quit giving Christmas presents to the adults. For certain reasons I personally never liked Christmas they way we used to celebrate it and thus never took charge of the preparations, but this (last) year was different. For the first time I was alone at home and could do what I liked. And I liked for all my children to come visit me for Christmas Eve. As did they. I was so excited! I had to make the arrangements all by myself and was anxious whether I would manage everything in time, so that everyone would enjoy our gathering.

My Christmas cards were hardly finished, when a new notion popped into my head: what about little surprise gifts for the (adult, after all) children? Nothing big, just a small something to express my delight in having them here. And these gifts could be packed in cloth bags ... embellished with some embroidery, of course!

It was Mary at Needle'n Thread, who saved my day offering the e-book Twelve Trees for Christmas. The gifts were already bought, when she put it up for sale, and I had two weeks left to stitch five trees plus five names and to sew the bags together, that turned into stockings by then, inspired by a comment in Mary's blog. It was a tour de force, I can tell you that, but what a joy! Every stocking stitched and sewed itself a bit quicker, and with every stocking I learned something new. I came to love French knots and Ribbed Spider Webs, for after working umpteen of them, I just got the hang of it for good (but I still don't like Fishbone Stitch!). By the way, I was sewing by hand. I have a beautiful over 100 years old sewing machine, still working reliably, but I hadn't used it for many years, so it would have taken much longer to bring it into service than to sew by hand.

Christmas tree #1
Christmas Tree for the Portuguese Friend

   old bedsheet (cotton or linen? can't tell)
   Soledi embroidery floss "Friendly Spiraea"
   silver craft beads from a craft store
   Stem, branches and roots - Stem Stitch
   Needles - Fly Stitch
   Petals - Detached Chain Stitch ("Lazy Daisy")

There was just one issue: tell my children about the gifts or not? On the one hand, I didn't want them to feel cheap due to not having a gift in return for me ("no presents for the adults!" - you remember?). On the other hand, I wanted it to be a surprise, after all, and they were such lovely nothings: a shower bath, a soap ... I was struggling for the full two weeks with this question - and didn't tell them in the end.

Christmas tree #2
Christmas Tree For The Son-In-Law

Christmas Eve worked out wonderfully! We spent a happy and harmonious day with each other, had an opulent dinner consisting of nine different dishes, as is traditional for the Ore Mountains, called Neunerlei - no, wait! We changed it into a "Zehnerlei", that is ten different dishes, including, what is more, an international one, because the Portuguese boyfriend of my daughter was eager to contribute some dish as well - an Ore Mountains-Portuguese dinner hence, and every dish was yummy. We had straw under the tablecloth and an additional place setting (for a potential beggar knocking at the door) and a four-armed Advent candlestick and a Raachermannel - in sum: a perfect Christmas Eve.

Incense Smokers & Nutcracker
Advent Candlestick
Christmas tree #3
Christmas Tree for the Elder Daughter

Fabric, threads and beads:
   same as above
   Stem, branches and roots - Stem Stitch Filling
   Leaves - Fishbone Stitch
   Flowers - Ribbed Spider Web, Straight Stitch, French Knots

Only the six years old grandson ate scarcely anything, because he had a more important concern: when will Santa finally bring the presents? While he was watching for him on the kitchen balcony with his mum, the rest of us was gathering the presents in the living room - his presents, right - but somehow strangely much this year ... I hung up my stockings at the cupboard doors, and eventually the lad came rushing into the room: "Where is Santa, where?!" - "Oh, I'm afraid you're too late! But look what he's left behind!"

Christmas tree #4
Christmas Tree for the Younger Daughter

Fabric, threads and beads:
   same as above
   Stem, branches and roots - Stem Stitch
   Leaves - Fly Stitch
   Fruits (or whatever it may be) - French Knots
   Letters - Whipped Backstitch
   Snow - Stem Stitch (would have been more distinctive on a non-white fabric)

Naturally, it was his job to look after the presents ... but what a surprise! Just imagine: All my children had had the same idea I had!! They all had got small gifts for everyone else - and they all had been struggling with the same doubts: to tell or not to tell?

And nobody told. Methinks it was a Christmas miracle of sorts. Don't you think so?

Apropos - wanna know what I got? Aaah! ... A photo calendar with photos of my grandson, a small hemp bag with home-baked Christmas cookies inside and ... a tiny hoop (4") and four balls of DMC Pearl cotton, no. 8. Yay!

my presents
My Presents