Christmas is a special time, we loved our family Christmas.
As my mother tells it, our grandmother, born in Edinburgh Scotland, could do everything. She knit dresses, coats, and sweaters; sewed doll clothes, winter coats with fur trim, and more. She even sewed my mother’s wedding dress! It helped that she was frugal, a wise and an accomplished needlewoman, especially during the days of the depression. Our grandmother would always have my grandfather looking his best, no matter the circumstances. Quite apt at the sewing machine, she’d extend the life of my grandfather’s shirts by reversing their cuffs and collars. Famous in her household for mixing colours into her own paint, our grandmother even did the interior painting. Curing her children’s colds was easy, with a smile and a mug of hot water and blackberry jam. Heck, she even created a rockery in her Toronto Don Valley garden with her son, my Uncle Fred.
We loved our family Christmas. Our grandmother and grandfather would arrive on Christmas Eve. They’d be laden with knitted items, baking, and gifts from our Christmas wish lists. Hand-sewn doll clothes, stuffed animals, and shortbread were our favourites.
Her baking was extraordinary. I think she may even have invented shortbread, it tasted so good. She introduced me to butterballs, and I don’t mean the turkeys. You make Candy Butterballs with a small scoop of butter rolled in brown sugar. What a treat!
I think of my grandmother when I sew. And I believe that my cousin does when she knits, and my sister and mother do as they bake. This year at Christmas, like the ones gone by, we will remember my grandmother for her love and her traditions. The memories of our family Christmas held long ago will come back with the smell of baking from the kitchen. And when I find a loose stand of wool or thread at the foot of the Christmas tree.