88: Hand-Stitched Love

88: Hand-Stitched Love

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada

Hand-Stitched Love

From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another. The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other.

~Emily Matthews

Snatches of holiday music hit me from all sides as I walked through the mall. It was two weeks before Christmas, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it. Try as I might, I hadn’t been able to figure out a way to make my meagre budget as a second-year grad student yield up the cash for a trip home. The distance from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to my parents’ house in Simcoe, Ontario, might as well have been measured in light years rather than kilometres. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t going to spend Christmas at home with my family.

I was going to have to cope, that was all. But privately, when I allowed myself to admit it, I realized the whirlwind of part-time work, research, sports and social activities I had plunged myself into couldn’t make up for the bare, honest fact that I was homesick.

About a week before Christmas, I received a notice to pick up a parcel from the post office. When I arrived to claim my prize, a box of gratifyingly large proportions, wrapped in brown paper and bound with twine, was thrust into my arms.

I scurried home to my apartment, placed the box on the kitchen table, and painstakingly undid the knots in the twine. A pair of scissors would have done the job more quickly, but I wanted to savour the moment.

Finally, the string fell aside and I stripped away the paper wrapped around the cardboard box. I opened the flaps to reveal a bulky cloth object. When I unfolded it, I gasped in surprise when I realized it was a quilt, lovingly crafted by my mother. But it was not the normal patchwork kind. No, this one was definitely different.

On a green background my mother had recreated, with a combination of sewing and embroidery, an image of home. There was our house, right down to the three white front pillars and the number 80 on the middle post. There was the redbud tree, with clouds of purple blossoms painstakingly hand-embroidered, and a tartan blanket spread below it like the one on which my mother and I would lie during lazy summer afternoons to read our books.

There was more: boldly orange tiger lilies at the base of a big pine tree; green shrubs with flowers embroidered on them; and the grey shed that housed the lawn mower and assorted garden implements. A badminton net was represented by a broad strip of lace spanning the space between two brown fabric posts, a croquet course serpentined across the yard and an image of Tiny, our Toy Terrier, was embroidered beside the blanket.

I pictured my mother bent over her handiwork on the dining room table at home, her brow furrowed as she concentrated on her work, her bent fingers holding the needle while her hands moved steadily as she made the painstaking, tiny stitches. How many hours of work this must have taken!

This quilt was more than material, batting, and thread; there was love sewn into it as well. As I wrapped it around me, I felt a warmth that was more than physical.

So what if I wouldn’t be home this Christmas? Home had come to me. More than that, I realized now that home and the love that resided there would always be a part of me, no matter where I went. And in that moment, I knew that this Christmas, and all the Christmases I might have to spend away, would be okay after all.

~Lisa Timpf

Mulmur, Ontario

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