As Christmas Eve approaches I can’t help but think of past Christmas Eves. As I young child I can remember laying in my bed upstairs on Christmas Eve and hearing my parents busy downstairs. I never knew what they were up to until Christmas morning but I could hear them until late into the evening. My Mom and Dad were usually busy assembling something for under the tree or putting on the finishing touches on something they had made.
My Mom and Dad have always made a gift for one of us six kids and worked very late into the night to put on the finishing touches. After I was grown and had children, I got a glimpse of what their Christmas Eves were like.
We spent Christmas eve with my husband’s family in our town and then loaded up our kids usually around 10 pm and drove 2 hours to my Mom and Dad’s home in the Twin Cities. We would carry our sleeping children into Mom and Dad’s house and put them to bed.
One year when we arrived my Dad was putting the finishing touches on this toy that he made for our son Curt.
The few years later when we arrived at Mom and Dad’s on Christmas Eve Dad was putting the final coat of varnish on this forklift that he made for our second son Matt.
Five years later Dad was painting this on a doll cradle that he made for my daughter Anna. He checked out books from the library to teach himself how to paint the elaborate design on the cradle.
The most elaborate project that Mom and Dad worked on together was a Barbie doll house for our daughter Christy. It was a replica of a house that we moved into when I was twelve. It was a Dutch Colonial and beautiful. Dad and my brother built the doll house and did all the exterior finishing. Mom made all the furniture and the interior decorating. I don’t have a picture tonight because that would require me to go into the attic with help and bring it in to photograph. I plan on doing an individual post on the doll house at a later date. I went to bed that evening at 3 am and the three of them were still working on it at that point.
Over the years my husband and I have spent time working various Christmas Eve projects. One year my husband decided to make a go-cart out of plumbing pipes and fittings.
One year I sewed sweatshirts for all the nieces and nephews made of Disney character fabric. Another year I made wooden nativity blocks for all the nieces, nephews and our kids. Eleven sets in all.
For many years my Christmas Eves involved finishing quilts. I made a baby quilt and presented the parents with a quilt at Christmas if they had a baby born that year. One year I made a quilt for my brother for Christmas. Another year I made a quilt for my mother-in-law that year I was still hemming it minutes before we went to their home for Christmas Eve dinner.
The latest Christmas Eve project was about eight years ago when we gave our oldest daughter a drum set for Christmas. She was in the percussion section in band. The drum set came in boxes and had to be assembled. It wasn’t that difficult but there were many pieces. I couldn’t start bringing in boxes until all of our kids went to bed. At that time they were night owls. The boys were in college and the girls were 15 and 13 and had Christmas wrapping to do so it was after 1 am before I could start assembling. It was almost 3:30 am before I was finished.
This is the first year I think I will make it to bed at a decent hour. No homemade gifts this year except a scarf that is almost finished. Something seems out-of-place, not having a last-minute project. There is still time to start one to carry on the family tradition….
December 17, 2010 at 4:23 am
Ah Jeanne, these are all such wonderful gifts. Genuine labours of love – I am so touched by this post. Your family sounds so special, the more I learn about you all.
December 17, 2010 at 7:26 am
Mom and Dad are truly special people. Dad still makes things for the grandkids. When I had my first son he made me a cradle out of cherry wood. He turned his own spindles on his lathe. It turned out beautiful. They had a fire that gutted their home a few years later. The cradle was being stored upstairs where it received extensive smoke damage. Last year my Dad took the cradle apart and reworked any pieces that were damaged, revarnished it and gave it back to me so I could use for our first grandchild, Jack. My Mom made all the bedding for the cradle and a homemade quilt for it too. Jeanne
December 17, 2010 at 7:53 am
Loved this post, Jeanne…cool forklift! I didn’t know you had an “Anna” too!
I’m trying to finish a crocheted Christmas stocking for Elise…that’s the only thing I’ve made this year!
December 17, 2010 at 8:17 am
My Anna is the baby of the family and the mother of baby Jack. Dad still amazes me with his talents. He is a retired electrical engineer but loves to make things out of wood. He made his own hammer dolcimer to play. It is really a beautiful instrument.
December 17, 2010 at 11:05 am
Handmade presents are great. It’s hard for kids to understand how much love goes into them, but they’ll figure out eventually.
P.S. That forklift is great!
December 17, 2010 at 11:15 am
I didn’t take a picture of the beer truck he made for Curt. It came complete with wooden siderails on the back with wooden beer barrels in the back.
For my nephews whose Dad is an over-the-road trucker he made semi-trucks with trailers. Pretty cool.
December 17, 2010 at 11:11 am
What exquisite craftsmanship and creativity! Now I see where you get your crafting talents, Jeanne!
December 17, 2010 at 11:19 am
Thanks Maura. I only wish I had more time to try some things. 24 hours in a day are just not enough and I can only go without sleep for just so long.