Advent, My Way #5

Some years, Christmas might be low key.

Sometimes, Christmas might be minimal.

We might forgo the tree and the wreaths and the white lights.

But no Christmas ever comes without Santa, and one Santa in particular.

This guy:

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With his friends, these guys:

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On this stocking:

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Made by my guy:

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My husband stitched this stocking for me over 10 years ago. As he stitched, he kept track of the hours spent stitching and, every year when the Santa comes out, I am reminded of time and energy and, yes, the love that went into the making.

Don has made several other Christmas stockings over the years, for other people he loves. I wrote about them here.

I know some of you have made Christmas stockings, too–raise your hands!

I can only hope they are cherished as much as mine is!

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246 Hours of Christmas Love

I’ve said it before and I’m sure to say it again.

I love Santa.

And I especially love this Santa.

IMG_4150It pains me that this Santa comes out only for a few weeks a year.

My husband, the cross stitcher, made this Christmas stocking for me—possibly the most perfect example of loving hands at home! At the time he made it, we lived in a big city and had a summer “camp” in upstate New York. We loved the rustic spot but only lived there for a couple months in the summer. We worked in the city and yearned for the country and the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.

So he chose a cross-stitch pattern for my stocking that would bring the rustic to our city Christmas.

And being the kind of guy he is, he kept track of every minute he spent on stitching the very dense, detailed pattern.

It took him . . . wait for it . . . 246 hours and 20 minutes!

He also spent time figuring out about how much he made per hour, as a college prof and business consultant, and let me know how much the stocking was worth, if he had been paid that hourly wage to make it. It was a big number, reflecting big love.

He gave me the stocking 10 years ago today! Of course, I knew it was coming—he could never have worked so long on it without me knowing. But to see it all done, in its glory . . . well, every year when I take it out of storage, I’m amazed all over again!

In the 10 years since I received it, a lot has changed. He has made stockings for a sweet niece:

stockinga grandson:

IMG_1055and is currently working on a new stocking for a new grandson.

IMG_4296And we have moved from the city to our “camp” full time. We live in a rustic setting, in the country, and my Santa looks right at home.

It seems to me that this is what Christmas is all about. Being in a comfortable place that feels like home, with reminders of how very much one is loved.

If you celebrate Christmas, is there one ornament or decoration that sums up the meaning of holiday for you? I’d love to hear about it.

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Yes, Virginia . . .

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.    –Francis Pharcellus Church

IMG_4141Reading your blogs has taught me so much. One thing I’ve learned lately is that decorating for Christmas is a passion. I knew this on a theoretical level before but, now, having read about and seen so many of your decorations around the world, I understand it in a much more fundamental way.

Even those of us who could only be described as cultural Christians—non-religious now but having been brought up in religious homes, with lots of Christmas memories—find joy at this time of year in bringing out the crèches and other Christmas treasures.

And, when we decorate, many of us seem to focus around collections of meaningful objects and feature them in our homes.

For me, I love Santa. So, even when we don’t do the full-blown decorating of a big tree and the whole house, we always bring out our main collection at Christmas—these Santas that line the mantle.

Our Santas have been coming to us for over 20 years and are primarily from the line of Great American Collectibles Old World Santas. These are carved and hand-painted resin figurines, made in the US. A few new ones are released every year and depict, mostly, folk art-style Santas from around the world.

The first one of these Santas that we received Mickey, an Irish Santa given to us by a friend after we went to Ireland on our honeymoon.

We liked Mickey’s look so much, we’ve brought many of his brothers home over the years.

Many of the Santas have sweet animals with them, which adds enormously to their appeal for us.

Some of our Santas come from other places.

We have our Millennial Penn State Santa:

Penn State Santa

Penn State Santa

And our Santa from the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

American Folk Art Museum Santa

American Folk Art Museum Santa

And we have Santas from garage sales!

3 garage sale Santas

3 garage sale Santas

These Santas sleep patiently in storage for most of the year, waiting to come out at Christmas and remind us of all the good that Santa Claus symbolizes—love and generosity and devotion. I believe in Santa! Do you?