I have a Christmas story to share...
This time two years ago, we were living in the Midwest, busily packing for a cross-country move to the Pacific Northwest. We were excited to move because we would be closer to family, and my husband would be starting a new job; but, the timing was not ideal.
We pulled out of our snow-packed driveway--me in our SUV with the kids, my husband driving the largest U-haul available, towing his smaller car--early Christmas Eve morning. We got as far as western South Dakota, and stayed the night in a hotel, where we laid out our stockings and set up a miniature tree I had packed last in the U-haul.
Santa came to our hotel room that night, and the next morning we tried our best to enjoy our Christmas "adventure" with our children. We opened gifts from each other and enjoyed some goodies I had packed for the trip. Then we packed all the stockings and gifts into a large suitcase, which we put into the moving truck to be enjoyed later.
In all, it took us 4 days and 3 nights to make it to our destination. We were driving in snowy conditions all the way up until we crossed over the last mountain pass that is the doorway into the greater Seattle area. To say it was unpleasant would be an understatement. It was long, treacherous, nerve-wracking, and frustrating.
When we finally got to our temporary apartment, relief still didn't come. It was NOT what had been advertised, was in a neighborhood that felt unsafe, and it smelled awful. I kept reminding myself that my kids would mirror whatever emotions I portrayed, so I tried to stay positive. With help from family, we quickly unpacked the truck (in the cold rain--welcome to Seattle!), and I worked to begin making our temporary living conditions comfortable.
We had arrived on a Friday night, and our children were able to start school on Monday morning. I was so excited to get the apartment put together while they were gone, and to unpack their Christmas gifts they had barely seen. I wanted them to come home to something special. I looked for the gift-filled suitcase in what we called our "Room of Requirement" (the "spare" bedroom we had stacked from floor to ceiling with boxes and furniture to avoid getting a storage unit). I looked and looked. I couldn't find it. This was a very small apartment, and it was a large suitcase. How was I missing it? I called my husband, and after reflection, he realized he didn't recall unloading it from the U-haul.
He then told me that sometime in the blizzard conditions of crossing Montana, he noticed the padlock we had on the back door to the U-haul had come off. He dismissed it as just being jostled off because of the bumpiness of the way and the frigid conditions. Now, we were faced with the cold truth--we had been robbed. The actual monetary value of what was taken was relatively little. There were no expensive electronics or jewelry in the suitcase. It had the Little People dollhouse my daughter had received from Santa; the Alabama (Roll Tide!) scarves my mom had made my sons, other toys and gifts we had exchanged with each other, and....our stockings.
I had made those stockings. They had character and love put into them. They were truly irreplaceable. When I realized they had been in that suitcase, I lost it. I broke down in tears. I felt so selfish crying--knowing I was crying over THINGS. No one had died. No one was sick or hurt. I knew it was silly, but after keeping it together through the stress of moving over the holidays from a nice big home to an tiny, icky apartment, this was the last straw. And it felt good to have that release. To openly share my feelings.
Thankfully, like all time does, that time passed. And good came out of it. Last year, I was able to make new matching stockings for the family. They make me happy. As I look at them, I think about the way our family bonded, focused on what was really important, and learned so many lessons through the adversities of our move here.
Her stockings have a pom-pom trim, which I decided to skip. It is super cute, but I worried about its longevity since it is hot-glued on. And I decided to add the monograms. One of the things that kept me sane during my time in our icky apartment was learning to do hand embroidery. I didn't have room to have my sewing machine or paints and easel, but a hoop and thread don't take up much room. I needed a creative outlet, and embroidery fit the bill. So I embroidered the letters on these by hand. They could have looked more professional if I had paid someone with a machine to do it, but it just felt right to use the skill I learned during our transition to complete these.