I graduated from Texas A&M one Saturday afternoon in December and moved back to San Antonio the same evening. Neither David nor I had jobs, but we assumed we would each find something fairly quickly. As Christmas neared with both of us unemployed, our spirits sagged. My parents gave us an old aluminum tree they had in their attic, and we decorated it with the ribbons from our wedding gifts. We pooled our pennies and bought one album that we both liked. David landed a job the week after Christmas, but it took me almost six weeks more before I started working for a local law firm.
By our second Christmas, I had returned to school and only worked part-time at a day care center. We managed to afford a gift for each of us, and we bought a few yards of thick white felt, red and gold sequins, green felt, and some red rickrack. Sewing together every night, we made our own tree skirt to tuck around a real Christmas tree.
For Paul’s first Christmas, I decided to add to the tree skirt cutout pictures from one of the cute little outfits he wore that first winter. Across the little tummy of our favorite one piece skated adorable penguins. I took cotton to quilt the fabric and added more sequins around the edge. With that little addition, we began our first family tradition.
Every year, as Paul outgrew his t-shirts, I’d set aside some of our favorites to cut and put onto the tree skirt. A pictorial record of Paul’s interests becomes a part of our holiday celebrations every year. I treasure remembering the Bert and Ernie and Cookie Monster phase. We have heroes like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Batman, and Ghostbusters romping over the white felt. Pikachu reminds us of the hours spent building the perfect deck or hunting for that rare card. One Christmas, Paul designed the Christmas card we sent to family and friends, and we transferred it to fabric to add to the skirt. Even as a teenager, Paul would occasionally toss a much worn shirt my way and say, “Could you put this on the tree skirt?” Thus, we added a picture of a toaster and other odds-n-ends.
I haven’t added anything to the skirt for many years, but I know there’s still room for additions. Perhaps we’ll leave spaces free for the next generation.
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman