I know someone who used to say that in their family, if you did something twice, it was a tradition. This used to be a sort of a joke, where you’d do something that the family or your friends enjoyed, and you’d think to yourself “note to self, so-and-so really liked that” and I’d write it on the Christmas spreadsheet to make sure it happened again, and everyone would laugh, and say “watch out! You’ll have to do it forever!”
Little did I know, that my family is so sensitive to tradition and ritual, and the little things we always do that make our family special, that for us, it doesn’t take twice. If the thing you did was really good, and it resonated, and everyone loved it, then whammo. It was an instant tradition, this time of year not the same without it. Such was the case with the Advent Calendar I made for Lou’s family two years ago. I thought I was making a calendar, but it turned out I’d made an instant tradition, so much so, that this year everyone asked. “Myrie is three,” they said. “Isn’t this the year for her calendar?”
I sighed, and started with the knitting of the tiny things again. All last month, tiny thing after tiny thing came off my needles and it was sort of a secret. I didn’t say out loud that it was Myrie’s calendar, but everyone knew. The whole thing culminated last weekend in a flurry of sewing and applique and a general sort of hysteria. I always remember too late that the sewing machine and nine oceans worth of felt is a bit of a production. I cut the whole thing out, and I embroidered all of the numbers on the pockets – I’d forgotten you can embroider over tissue paper then rip it away. Way easier.
I sewed those parts on, and then sat down to sew the buttons on, and in that moment, realized I didn’t have any. A trip to downtown and the button store later, I had all I needed, and sewed every single one of those twenty-four buttons on. (I tried to do it with the machine first, but after I broke two needles and the ones I’d done fell off anyway, I decided to rock it old school. I sort of had to, once I’d broken all my needles.) When it was done, I hung all the tiny things from the buttons, and then moved half of the buttons to the right places. (Little problem with the order of operations there.)
Then, I loaded it into the car, and did something I almost never do. I drove somewhere. Myrie doesn’t live very close to me, but she had to have it for the 1st of December, so off I went, wending my way along the highway, over the big hill to Myrie’s house. When I got there, Myrie’s mum Robyn opened the door and said “I think I know why you’re here!” and I went to the car and got the thing.
There is a danger in giving a gift to a three year old, unless you have your head on straight. The three year old could not like it. They could be afraid of it. They could cry and refuse to look at it, or they could promptly flush three tiny things down the toilet because they’ve just learned how the lever works. You cannot care. Gifts to three year old’s need to be freely given, in the spirit of the thing, and without ego. I marched in, hung it on the wall, and waited for NOTHING to happen.
It was my lucky day, as an auntie. Something did happen. All the ornaments were taken off, exclaimed over, cuddled, taken out of pockets, put back in pockets, and though I have no doubt that the kid has no clue what it’s for or how it works, she was delighted, and so was her mum, and that was enough for me. Robyn’s reported back since then, and apparently the star was hung on the first with much enthusiasm, and today the candy cane went up. (Unlike her cousin Luis, Myrie seems to be keen on doing them in order, and the candy cane was in the day two pocket, after all the shuffling.)
I didn’t know when I was making the first one that there would be a second, but I’m clear now that there will be a third. When my grandson is three. I’ve got three years to get it together. (That’s right, a grandson. We’re completely shocked and thrilled, Megan is expecting a boy.) I can’t wait to find out what tiny things he’ll like.
Santa Mouse for sure.
(PS. I know too that Gifts for Knitters is a tradition, and I’ll get right on it. Give me a minute, I’ll catch up.)