77: The Twelve Martians of Christmas

77: The Twelve Martians of Christmas

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas!

The Twelve Martians of Christmas

I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect — they are much more interesting.

~Marc Jacobs

Nearly every year Mom gives my sister and me something extra special for Christmas — our “big gift,” she calls it. When I turned sixteen, she bought me a cedar chest. Another year she bought me a brass daybed. Sometimes we get jewelry. Whatever the gift turns out to be, Mom puts a lot of effort into planning the perfect “big gifts” for her girls.

A few years ago, just before Christmas, I knew Mom was up to her usual Christmas antics. Each time I stopped by her house for a visit, she scurried into her sewing room and closed the door behind her. The muffled sounds confirmed my suspicions... my “big gift” was behind that door. Because she needed my help to find a pattern, she gave in and revealed the big secret — she was making me a gingerbread man quilt for Christmas.

My gingerbread man craze began the year I got my first teaching job. I could afford a little luxury, so my husband and I went on a weekend getaway. While shopping, I stumbled upon a store called Elder-Beerman, and that’s where I first set eyes on an all-gingerbread-man Christmas tree.

The tree dazzled me. Stuffed gingerbread boys and girls dangled from every branch. Some of the gingerbread boys wore chef hats. Some held rolling pins or cookie sheets. Some wore Santa hats. Some had buttons or vests. Gingerbread girls sported holiday dresses with holly and bows and candy canes. These scrumptious delights entertained me for hours.

Growing up, our Christmas tree was a mishmash of ornaments. Felt Santa ornaments, Styrofoam snowmen, gold angels, Christmas mice, elves, sleds. Nothing matched. Anything Christmas meshed together. If I decided to buy this tree, it would be the first themed Christmas tree in the family. I had to have this tree! But we didn’t need a tree. But I did have the extra money. What would my husband say? I could certainly find more useful things to buy. But it would last for years and years — an investment in our future. Finally feeling justified, I bought an all-gingerbread-themed Christmas tree.

Although my obsession with gingerbread men grew, I did not have a gingerbread quilt, and I couldn’t wait to receive the one my mom was making. It would be the perfect addition to my Christmas collection.

Christmas had finally arrived and although I knew what my “big gift” was, I felt like a little kid. Carefully, I unfolded the quilt and held it up for everyone to see. I was expecting to see a twelve-block gingerbread quilt. Instead, I saw twelve blocks of oddly shaped extraterrestrials!

The first thing that jumped out at me was how each gingerbread man looked different; each had its own deformity. Most of their heads were too big or shaped like extraterrestrials. There were some missing necks, and some with outrageously long necks. A couple of them appeared to have a fat roll just above the legs. Then there were those whose right legs and left legs weren’t the same size or shape.

Mom even went through the trouble of sewing on buttons for their eyes. The only problem was that most of the buttons were cockeyed or they were placed too far apart. The poor things!

Even with all of these disfigurements, none was worse than the lips. Mom used red rickrack for the lips, so they looked like bloody vampire fangs. These extraterrestrials scared me a little, and some looked scared themselves.

Despite the misshapen gingerbread men, I know my mom worked diligently on my quilt. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt her, so I complimented the beautiful fabric and thanked her for all of her hard work.

Mom realizes my “big gift” won’t win any prizes, but we get a good laugh out of it every time it’s mentioned. Hence the name we gave it... “The Twelve Martians of Christmas.”

~Jeannie Dotson

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