(A Christmas memory by Gail and Clyde’s daughter, Virginia Allain)
Some families face a spartan Christmas, particularly if they are out of work. Thinking of that brought to mind a Christmas where the generosity of others saved our family from a bleak holiday.
An earlier Christmas in the Martin home – Cindy and Clyde. I’m sure Dad made the rocking horse in the picture.
My dad had been in a car accident and was hospitalized for almost six months. My mother was expecting and with five children to care for, she couldn’t go out and work. It looked like there would be few gifts and certainly, money couldn’t be wasted on a Christmas tree when there was barely food for the table.
When our school closed for the Christmas break, my fifth-grade teacher brought the tree from the classroom to our house. Also that week, some kind soul left a box filled with holiday foods on our front porch.
It must have been a frightening and sad time for my mother trying to cope with it all. I’m thankful that the second-hand tree and the food brought some Christmas spirit to our home that year.
When I shared this memory with my younger sister, Karen, she said,
“I would have been 5 that Christmas. Don’t remember any of those things! That was in the days when kids weren’t allowed to visit in the hospital, so I remember not seeing Dad for a long time. The father of another kid in the neighborhood was an over-the-road truck driver–I remember thinking maybe that’s what my Dad was doing since he was gone for so long.”
“I think mom, Gail Lee Martin made fabric balls like this one Christmas. Reminds me of the many Christmas projects both Dad and Mom worked together on. Like the yarn candy cane and the Santa head. Both were very nicely put together. They had to start early in the year to get them all made.” – Cynthia Ross
Here’s a YouTube video tutorial for making these no-sew folded fabric ornament balls. They give a quilted look but there’s no glue or sewing required. Just cut, fold and pin the fabric.
Here are more of Gail and Clyde’s Christmas crafts:
Make a Candy Cane Wall Hanging from Yarn. This is an earlier blog post, in case you missed it. It uses yarn to create a huge candy can to hang on your door or on the wall.
This reindeer ornament is made from gluing 3 wooden clothespins together. Two serve as the legs and the one pointing upwards makes the antlers. Glue on felt to serve as the tail, the nose and a bit of Christmas holly. Some googly eyes and a string to hang it. Really cute!
I’ll post Mom’s complete instructions for this tomorrow. She wrote about it for the eHow site.
Candy cane reindeer with pipe cleaner antlers and googly eyes. Made by Gail Lee Martin.
You don’t need much explanation for this candy cane reindeer. It’s pretty clear how to assemble it. It’s a fun project for kids during the holiday season.
You can get a package of wiggle eyes from Amazon or check your local craft store. Click on the photo to see the details or to look for other wiggle eyes, candy canes, pipe cleaners, felt, wooden clothespins and other craft supplies on Amazon.
Gail loved holidays, so I scouted out some old pictures from the 1970s of her grandchildren enjoying the holiday. Paul looks quite dapper in his little suit, Robin’s wearing the lavender crocheted outfit and April is the toddler with the Easter bonnet and the bouquet of flowers.
In the 1972 black-and-white photo, the kids are pictured with their Aunt Shannon.
Easter Scrapbook Page Made for My Sister
An article rescued using the Wayback Machine. Mom wrote it for eHow back in 2010.
Making pom-poms from yarn is easy. Connect them together to make a giant candy cane. This makes a marvelous Christmas decoration. Here’s how to make one for your wall.
Things You’ll Need:
red yarn & white yarn
wire clothes hanger
small square of cardboard (3 inches by 2 inches)
One of Gail and Clyde’s giant candy canes made from pom poms.
1 Take a wire coat hanger. Untwist it and straighten it to the full length. Bend the top part into the shape of a shepherd’s crook. Fold each end back on itself (to keep the pom-poms from sliding off).
2 Make the pom-poms: Wrap the yarn twenty times around the three inch length of the cardboard. Slide the cardboard out. Using a separate piece of yarn, tie the loops of yarn in the middle. Leave enough extra of the tie to tie the pom-pom onto the wire.
3 Make as many red and white pompoms as needed to fill the wire cane. We double wrapped, then tied with a square knot. Cram the pom-poms together to make a fuller candy cane.
4 We found some yarn that had glitter entwined and that made even prettier canes. I also sprayed clear shellac and quickly sprinkled glitter on plain yarn to get the same effect.
5 We added plastic decoration up near the curve by tying it with yarn. Big red, velvety bows look great on them too.
Added decoration on the pom-pom candy cane.
6 A wire loop was added to the back side for hanging. We double wrapped some yarn, then tied it with a square knot to the wire for extra strength.
This looks great hanging on a door during the holiday season. We made both big candy canes and small ones. Store the candy cane carefully so the yarn isn’t crushed.
I found myself an orphan at age 64. Being past the stage of needing an orphanage, if such existed anymore, it was up to me to find my way in a world without my mother’s wisdom.
In the last few years of my mother’s life, her daughters haphazardly converted into caregivers. They mothered their mother by being sure she had food and taking her to the doctors. They dealt with problems and gave her advice.
Being half-way across the country, I missed the day-in-day-out adjustments that might have trained my heart and mind to let go of being mothered. Via phone calls and twice a year visits, I could see things changing. I worried about her welfare, especially after Dad died. She seemed so lost without him by her side.
Time passes and I think I’m adjusting to being motherless. Still I find myself wanting to ask my mother things. I rue the times that I only half-listened to her repeated family stories. I find myself trying to remember one of her folksy sayings.
Perhaps the annual rituals of Mother’s Day makes me feel my orphan status more keenly. I see my sisters struggling, each in their own way trying to adjust. It is like losing an anchor in your life.
Here we are together. I actually don’t have that many photos like this. Usually I’m the one with the camera in hand.