When I graduated from college in 1978, I took a job with The Boeing Co. in Seattle, WA writing software for military aircraft. That's about 3000 miles from NC where I grew up. My mother cried and told people I had moved to the "upper left hand corner". (She's right-brained and extremely directionally challenged.) In those early days, I cross stitched on my lunch hour and in the evenings for mental health therapy. (It was a stressful job.) Back then I stitched about forty Christmas ornaments each year as gifts. (I'm down to about 25/year now.) But I never had time to stitch those lovely Christmas scenes that I collected.
I met a wonderful man and four years later we were married. That was 1982. His family was also a couple of thousand miles away. We didn't spend many of those early Christmases with either of our families. So I decided we should create our own Christmas traditions.
Since Boeing closes shop between Christmas and New Year's I decided to take that week and stitch (or start) one of the larger Christmas designs that I'd never had time to do before. I made a large (approximately six feet in diameter) tree skirt out of heavy red felt and trimmed it with one inch wide grosgrain ribbon. When I finished the Christmas cross stitch, including the year, I appliqued (fancy term for sewed it on with some trim) it onto the tree skirt. Voila, a tradition was born.
I have done a new one every year since. There are twenty-eight now. Some have meaning like the patriotic one in 2001 and the puppies in 1986. That was the year we started having dog children. Some are ones that my husband chose (from a select few that I allowed him to look at) and some are designs I just wanted to stitch because I liked them. All are precious and I love looking at them and remembering the time I spent stitching them. I can see the changes in my life, the growth of my needlework abilities and interests, and most of all, the love in my life.
Now, my tree skirt is full...or it will be once I attach this year's piece. What I'm going to do next year is still a mystery, but have no fear I will come up with something.