Tuesday, December 06, 2011

From My Christmas Archives

Below is a piece I wrote for my mom one Christmas, my little tribute and thanks for her ever-present love to her family over the years. Although she doesn't sew as much these days, we still love to reminisce about the 'olden' days when getting a new dress at Christmas was a very special event.  

She remembers the fidgets we'd have as she'd twirl us around while we stood atop a sturdy kitchen chair, while we remember scratchy, poky pins when we'd have to try on the pattern pieces for the right fit.
Our Christmas Dress fittings were all part of the great build up to Christmas Eve, the most important day of the year in my books. Most of our celebrations were on Christmas Eve, including the annual Christmas Concert at church with candy bags at the end and rushing home to present opening by the tree.  The turkey and its trimmings were happily part of the next day celebrations -- the 25th -- and while it cooked and filled the house with yummy smells, oh the bliss of having a whole day to play with our new toys and treasures.  

Wishing you pleasant memories popping up from your own archives!

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Me and Little Sis, circa 1963

Fabric, Tissue Paper and Christmas Dresses
by Brenda Leyland
The whir of a sewing machine was a familiar sound growing up in our little farmhouse. Mom always had some sewing project or another under construction. But of all the garments she made, it was the pretty Christmas dresses I remember (and probably loved) the most.

With the arrival of each December the anticipation would swell as the days were counted off. Mom would study the Eaton's catalog for ideas, and then during the seasonal trip to Edmonton pore over wondrous bolts of possibilities in the fabric department, pondering all the while what would make the ‘perfect’ outfit for her little girls that year.

Amidst scissors, stick pins, not to mention the ever present tape measure draped around her neck, sheets of ecru tissue rustled with expectancy as Mom carefully pinned each pattern piece to the fabric.

It was always a thrilling moment to hear the first snip of scissors crunch their way through the layers. Soon threads would litter the floor and we’d hear another whoosh as the hot iron pressed damp cloths down on a newly sewn seam.

Many Christmas outfits passed under the pressure foot of that old sewing machine. Sometimes velvet would be the chosen fabric, sometimes organza. Holly red velvet dresses with lace on the bodice; red jumpers paired with crisp white blouses; my fifth grade dress a royal blue jacquard shift with three-quarter sleeves, offset by a white pleated organdy collar. And of course, my all-time favourite: the peacock blue velvet ones with swirly skirts of whispering chiffon (see photo).

Although we’d sigh and groan impatiently when Mom would make us stand on a chair to check hems and seams, it sure was a proud moment on Christmas Eve when we’d stand in our newest finery, delivering mostly memorized recitations and warbling through partly familiar carols.

It doesn’t matter how many Christmases come and go, recollections of lovingly made dresses and annual concerts in the old country church remain special memories, as treasured as any heirloom ornament.

And, of course, the wonder of it is that these gifts of love were wrapped up in the celebration of the One who came to express the everlasting love of a generous Father to our world.

Who would have thought that the whisper of tissue paper on velvet would echo that great love to three little girls?


  1. That was wonderful Brenda! My mother making our Christmas dresses is one of my fondest memories also. And she always made matching dresses for me and my closest sister. You mentioned the bags of candy at the end of the church service. Each Christmas, I buy some hard candies just to smell. It takes me right back to those days. Who says you can't time travel?

  2. Hi Brenda! I loved your story! It really touched my heart. My mom sewed for me too when I was little and you described the experience so perfectly! I felt like I was right there again. The last line of story was wonderful "...the whisper of tissue paper on velvet"! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story and have a restful evening ahead! Delisa :)

  3. Thank you so much, Brenda, for sharing this sweet remembrance of special times. (And I love the picture of you and your sister! You look cherubic!)
    As I am a relatively new reader, this archived story was all new to me. :-)

  4. Your lovely story brought back many memories of standing on the kitchen chair while mom pinned the hem. Your mother's eyes must've misted up when she read that piece! Wishing you many more warm memories throughout the season.

  5. What wonderful memories, and you both looked so pretty in your dresses. My mum didn't sew, but I would have a new outfit to wear to all the parties over the season. The same dress was worn to every one, but it was so thrilling putting on my Christmas dress!

  6. This post unearthed similar memories.Standing on a table while trying not to get pricked by the pins.Sewing seems to be a lost art these days. Loved reading this I hope you have a wonderful day...Lucy.

  7. sweet story of a mother's love...

  8. Brenda, thanks for stopping by my blog! I can't believe the picture of you and your little sister. My middle sister and I had similar dresses but the top have was red velvet! I guess that was the fashion during that time period!!


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xox

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