To my grandchildren, Nick, Andy, Jenny, Dan, Anna, and Steve, and to my great grandchildren Ashton and Mellybell. Every year at Christmas I try to give you something I have made. As a child I learned when you give someone something you have made, you give them a part of yourself. By now I am 80 and my eyes aren’t as good as years ago and my fingers are slower. Instead of sewing this year, I’m giving you a collection of stories which I have written for one reason or another over the years. I hope this will give you a little glimpse into a different me, the one beyond the cluttered sewing room and the funny walk.
With much love,

By the way, Nick gave me that name; it was how he first said Grandma

HOW IT ALL BEGAN *
by Jean Binns Smith
© 2010

* I wrote this story as one in a collection of 5 stories for my grandchildren and great grand children this year.      

     By now you all are expecting some form of sleep wear on your bed when you awaken Christmas morn. It is a traditional in the Smith family as much as opening a stocking and then cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast. Actually it is a unique custom in the Smith family.

     Lorraine was born in January 1957, and our budget was very tight. Early in December,I decided I should make flannel nighties for the new baby. My mother went shopping with me to buy the pink, blue and green flannel for sewing. The store also had a very pretty bright red flannel with little gold stars on it. Not wanting three year old Kathleen, to feel left out when I was sewing for the new baby, she bought enough flannel to make a nightie for Kathi as well. We decided this should be a Christmas present.

     I didn’t wrap the nightie, as I had decided to put it on her Christmas morning, thinking it would make a good Christmas picture with her wearing it. After Santa came, I laid the nightie across her bed and went to bed myself.

     The next morning I was wakened with Kathi coming into my room carrying the nightie and all excited because Santa Claus came into her room and laid the nightie on her bed. She put the nightie on and wore it all Christmas day and much of the winter.

     The next December when we started talking about Santa coming, all she could ask was, “Is Santa going to come into my room this year and leave me something?” I had forgotten about the nightie and couldn’t figure out what she was talking about at first. She reminded me of the nightie. Ah yes. it looked like I was going to have to make two nighties that year. And that started the nightie tradition in the Smith family. In time I had to make nighties for three little girls, and one year I remember I even made little nighties for their three dolls.

     There came a time when the girls got big enough it was cheaper to buy ready-made nightgowns or pajamas than flannel for three long nighties, but every year till Kathi, Lorraine and Carol left home, there was sleepwear on their bed for them to awaken to Christmas morning. I remember when college age Lorraine and Dave were dating, I would have to wake up in the middle of the night to play Santa and slip hers on her bed after she came home from Christmas Eve midnight services with him.

     Coming home for Christmas dinner the first year after she first was married Kathi remarked, “Everything would have been perfect if my husband had just put a nightie on the foot of my bed.” A few years later when she was a new mother, on Christmas Eve she put a pair of pajamas at the foot of baby Nick’s crib. Lorraine and Carol followed the custom with their children.

     One year Carol had a lot of time on her hands and little money and she made a Christmas nightie for me and pajama bottoms for Gene. She lived about 50 miles away in Altoona, so Lorraine slipped in Christmas Eve to quietly lay them on our beds for us to find as we went to bed, completing the family tradition begun so many years ago.


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