I was determined, 12 years ago, to make our first Christmas special. With no room for a tree in our small urban condo, we spent our evenings admiring the lit and beautifully decorated trees in the living rooms in the building next to us.
It was a good thing we didn’t have any room for a tree since nary an ornament existed to put on it and our money was better spent on food and wine rather than decorations. Hell, that’s what our windows with views of everyone else’s trees were for. Stalking everyone elses well decorated lives.
We really couldn’t care about a tree we didn’t have room for, or decorations we didn’t have. But, what I wanted for us was to have stockings hanging just in case Santa decided to visit.
I’ve had the same stocking my whole life. A handmade knit stocking, a gift from the wife of my father’s boss when I was born, it has unbelievable detail and is truly a treasure and piece of art. I wanted Paul to have an equally special stocking too.
He claimed he didn’t have a special stocking from his childhood and didn’t seem to show any concern for having one at all. I was inspired. Instead of buying him a store stocking, I’d knit him one. A stocking that would be something we’d have to remember our first Christmas and one he’d use each year.
I should have just ordered one online.
I was, and still am, a basic knitter. I should have left well enough alone and stuck to scarves. They’re much easier and the end results are much more predictable. Much more predictable.
I diligently knit for over a week every night. Alternating colored stripes like a candy cane, I kept going. I did my best to follow the instructions I never really understood; I tried to reduce the stitches properly, make the ankle shape and taper to the toes and pick up dropped stitches properly. I tried. I was optimistic and I was inspired but sensed I was failing.
Yet, I swallowed my feelings of failure and adopted a delusional thought that in the end some sort of exceptional craft redemption would happen and it would turn out just right. A spectacular piece of art, for sure.
Surely by the time I stitched the ends together it would at least resemble a stocking. I was sure. It had to. I hadn’t wasted countless hours knitting for my efforts not to be rewarded. It would be spectacular. A treasured homemade stocking we’d admire each Christmas. Right?
I showed it to Paul. He smiled.
I asked him if he LOVED it. He said “sure”.
I told him it was so special. Didn’t he think so?
“Sure” he said with a smile.
I couldn’t wait to hang it up, so up it went, next to mine, on the mantel at my parents house.
My efforts were rewarded.
Rewards in the form of fodder for laughter, entertainment and “maybe we should get a new stocking?” There was no spectacular handmade stocking that would be treasured for Christmas seasons to come.
I had, in-fact, knit what my mother coined, “A condom for an elephant”. To be honest. She was right. It was hideous and I was delusional for thinking that it was so special and anything to LOVE.
I don’t know what happened to it. Maybe it hangs in a Zoo somewhere in an elephant house. I do know it never reappeared again from the boxes of Christmas decorations and never graced the mantel again.
Like everything in life, effort is not necessarily rewarded like you’d expect, but lessons were learned. Whenever I contemplate knitting something (other than a square blanket or scarf), or get overly ambitious with a craft project; I think of the elephant condom Christmas stocking and our first Christmas.
Some things are best left to the experts. Like people who actually know how to knit. Trust me. Elephant condom shaped stockings have yet to become popular, even in fringe markets and will likely never be gracing mantels throughout the world. It never graced our family mantle again that I know for sure.
I tried. I made a hideous stocking, Paul smiled, I laughed and it was a spectacular first Christmas.