Treasure Chest Thursday – Halloween Decorating with Mom

I haven’t really decorated for Halloween the past couple of years. DH would bring home a pumpkin for me and that was about the extent of it. This year, I decided to get the decorations out and get in the spirit of the holiday for a change.

As you may know, my mom passed away the end of August from Alzheimer’s Disease. When I got out the Halloween decorations, I realized I’d forgotten that several of our decorations are the result of Mom’s crafting. It was fun to see the things she made or that she helped the kids make and place them around the house. Here are two pots she made with my kids.
Halloween potsI usually stick a candle in them and fill with candy corn … which I have to refill a little each day even though the kids have moved out of the house. Yes, dear, I’m talking about you!
table setting

When A was over the other evening, I pointed out the decorations she made with her grandmother. She remembers going to the store to buy the flowerpots with her and said, “We made a lot of things with pots!” Yes, indeed, Mom did a lot of crafting with flower pots. Here’s another one A made with Mom’s help:
2015-10-30 00.08.14The witch’s hat used to be black, but has faded with time. She’s pretty cute, though.

Mitu and Kathy copy crop

Me as Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Yesterday we had our little Halloween celebration for the adult ESL class where I teach. Several of the teachers dressed in costume – and I was one of them. As I put my costume together, I found myself smiling, remembering Mom’s willingness – make that all-in enthusiasm, when something at TOPS or work or some other group she belonged to had a reason to dress up in costume. I think of her as having no fear of being a bit silly for the cause – whatever it was.

I saw the meme below on Facebook this week:
Mom sayingMom feels so far away, and yet, here she is. She is the map I follow.

With occasional detours and alternate routes.

Christmas Decorating: Mom’s Influence – The Advent Calendar

Sometime before I had kids – I’m thinking late 1970s, I was visiting my parents and mom was making an Advent calendar that she copied from a friend. She bought enough of everything ahead of time so I could make one too. We worked on our calendars at her kitchen table – soon covered with felt, scissors, glue, sequins, thread, paper, pencils, sharpies, burlap and with her sewing machine nearby.

I still have the instructions that I wrote from her copy.

Advent Calendar instructions 1Advent Calendar instructions 2Advent Calendar instructions 3Advent Calendar instructions 4

And the pattens for the ornaments and tree.

I didn’t finish all of the ornaments during my visit, so it was up to me to finish on my own. I didn’t understand a few of the ornaments – like the owl, for instance. A Christmas owl? What’s that about? I understand the imagery of the fish – but this one is maybe a little too “fishy” for the Christian connotation…

And how about the pig?

In the creative comfort of my own home, I didn’t always use the designs provided. I got the designs for the doll and the teddy bear from coloring books.

DSCN3311 - Version 2I don’t know if you noticed, but I never finished the Advent calendar. See that pocket with the number 1 on it? It’s empty. Over 30 years later and I still have one ornament left to make. Typical.

Here is a look at our almost fully decorated Advent calendar.

The missing ornament is supposed to be a reindeer, but I didn’t like the one in the pattern. As I was preparing this post, I found several ideas I had considered for the last ornament. Living in Texas, these included an armadillo and a pair of cowboy boots. Hey – unless you can explain the owl, I think the armadillo and boots are just as relevant. Besides, my husband used to collect armadillos, so it would have had meaning for us at the time.

That armadillo is traced from one of my husband’s signature armadillo doodles. He drew the cowboy Santa too. 🙂

Leave a comment and suggest what I should make as the final ornament.

Or should I just leave it as it is – a testimony to imperfection?

When we only had one child, she got to put each ornament on the tree to count down the days to Christmas, but with the birth of two siblings, it was necessary to evenly divide the task – which did not divide evenly among three children since there were only 23 ornaments. These days I hang the calendar on the pantry door in the kitchen and I alone have the privilege of counting down the days on our Advent calendar.

Thanks, Mom!

Mom also made the tree skirt that we use under our tree every year. You can read about it (and get the directions) here: Christmas Decorating – Mom’s Influence: The Tree Skirt.

Christmas Decorating – Mom’s Influence: The Tree Skirt

I took pictures of some of our Christmas decorations thinking I would do several posts during Advent. But between medical appointments and the occasional bad days, Christmas in less than two weeks and my daughter’s wedding in less than three weeks – it looks like it isn’t going to happen. Maybe I can squeeze in one or two ….?

Christmas 1975

Christmas 1975

My husband and I married in the spring of 1975 and celebrated our first Christmas together that year. We got a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree that we decorated with a popcorn garland and some tinsel. One of the craft trends at the time was making things out of bread dough. You can see a few of our cookie cutter bread dough ornaments hanging on the tree. They lasted for several years, but they are all gone now.

But what I really intended to write about was the gift we received from my mother.

Mom crocheted a tree skirt for us that we have used every year now for 38 years and it is just as lovely today as it was the day we received it.

DSCN3247As I look closely at this picture I see that the skirt is wrong side up. There isn’t really much difference and I’m probably the only one who would notice. 🙂 Did I mention that some really special Christmas elves came to my house a week ago to set up my tree and help me decorate? What a gift that was!

The last time I was at my parents’ house and going through papers and magazines and pictures like I always do looking for family history gold, I found the instructions Mom used to make the tree skirt. The November 1975 issue of The Workbasket magazine had been folded open to reveal this picture. Otherwise I might have passed right over it.
Christmas tree skirt pic

The opposite page provided the instructions.
Christmas tree skirt instructions

I can’t remember for sure if Mom gave us these knitted bells at the same time as the tree skirt or the following year. I love the little red bells and space them carefully throughout the other tree decorations.


It seems like I have stumbled upon the instructions for these bells at one time or another. If I find them again, I’ll add them here.

Another year Mom gave us some Christmas coasters made from the same yarn.

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

Every year, out come the decorations mom made for us with Christmas Green and Christmas Red yarn and the work of her hands. They set the stage for sticking with red and green as our seasonal colors of choice. And they set the stage for enjoying any and all DIY decorations. Ours may not be a tree (or a house) worthy of Southern Living Magazine, but it would do The Workbasket Magazine proud.

I started writing about more of the Christmas decorations that have Mom’s handprint all over them, but decided this would get too long, so I’m going to try to do a few shorter posts. Hope I get them done!

A little update about me if you are interested…
My 6th and last chemotherapy for this phase of treatment for lymphoma is tomorrow – Monday, December 16th. Then I’ll be having some tests to see how effective the treatment has been and to determine if I am ready for a stem cell transplant. The transplant should happen in mid-January. Can’t say that I am looking forward to it, but how can I not look forward to it? A transplant increases my chances for long-term survival from 5-10% without transplant to 50% with transplant. Much better odds! I appreciate the prayers and well-wishes I have received from my blogging friends! If you feel so inclined, you can email me at abbieandeveline at gmail dot com.