Here's the year's wrap-up of crochet projects. I know there are a few projects I neglected to get pictures of but this should be a fairly good representation of what I accomplished.
I didn't crochet nearly as much as I thought I did. Another year is getting ready to start and I'm working on projects for 2011! For the most part, I keep track of my finished projects in my signature at crochetville.org .
Listing from CV signature:
Finished in 2010: Spiral Simplicity Doily, Toddler Afghan, Potholder (3), Dishcloth (15), Scarf (2), Hat and Scarf Set, hat, rr afghan, magic ball afghan, g sq lapghan, rr baby ghan, doll outfit, spiderman ghan, teddy bear shirt, kk hat, rug, hanging towels (8) slippers (3pr), dog sweater (2), coaster set (2), doll (1), Xmas ornaments (4), men's hat (1), little girl's hat (1), edged towels (2), afghan (2), kennel koozie (1)
I can see several things that I don't have pictures of. I'll try to do better next year. Happy hooking everyone....
I missed the WIP Wednesday over at Everyday Crochet so I thought I'd post what's going on a day late.
I have some balls of a boucle like yarn that I got at a thrift store and I thought I'd make a scarf out of it:
I am using this pattern:
From this book (pg. 107):
I finally finished this throw (I know you've seen it as a wip many times):
Here's a closer look at the edging:
To make the edging, have the wrong side facing you and then slip stitch in one stitch and a treble (triple) crochet in the next--keep on repeating.This throw, you may remember, was to go to one of the guests I was expecting in December, but their visit had to be rescheduled.
Another guest had to reschedule their visit too and they were supposed to get this throw:
They're both planning to come through here in the spring so the first one here gets the first pick! :)
I'm not a person who stays focused on one project at a time. The other currently in progress project is a granny square ghan. My mil had found a bag of squares made and there was extra yarn included. I've been working on this for the last few days.I've been making additional squares and some of the squares were sewn together but the original crocheter wasn't paying attention to what they were doing and some were facing right side up and other squares had the wrong side up. I had to take the ones apart that were sewn together and I did have to make the last round on a few of them because I accidentally cut the wrong yarn. The original crocheter did do something that I'm not happy with and that is (s)he left short ends that could not be woven in. I'm concerned with the durability of this ghan with so many of the squares having the short ends. The colors of these squares are beautiful. Here's a look at a few of them:
I also made a pair of men's slippers. I gave them to my son but forgot to get a picture of them before he took off with them. :) (Love ya Matthew!)
Thought I would post a picture of my long time crochet project of a koozie for my granddogs kennel. I was pretty nervous about making something from "scratch" but with the exception of being a couple inches too long, it turned out pretty good. I used 2 strands of yarn: 1 strand of black and 1 strand of "magic ball" yarn. I used almost 4lbs of black yarn! Sorry for the picture quality--I used my cell phone to take it. Hugs to all and thanks for visiting...
Haven't posted much on my other love lately (history). Here's a bit of history trivia for you:
On 27 Dec 1990, the first female commanding officer of a U.S. Navy vessel, Lcdr Darlene Iskra reported for duty on board USS Opportune (ARS-41) at Naples, Italy, serving until 1993. After retiring in 2000 and completing a Ph.D seven years later, Darlene Iskra is now a professor and an author of numerous publications about Women in the Armed Forces.
Now that you are finished with your Christmas projects and have boxes FULL of yarn odds and ends what are your plans to do with it? How about slippers? Here's a great pair made from granny squares and making squares uses up leftovers as every crocheter knows. Is your hook in hand yet? Have a great week!
DH has spoiled me again this year. He bought me an electric yarn winder! Whoo hoo! I'm gonna be a winding fool :). Even better than that is the Kindle he bought me! I'm sooo excited to have it. I've wanted one for quite some time. To be honest, I've been doing the Amazon Affiliate thingie and I've been trying to save my credits to get a Kindle but that close-to-$20 I have wasn't getting there anytime soon (but I can download books with it). I'm really, really excited like a kid opening up a video game system or something like that. I've downloaded a free book already and I bet most of you can guess what book it is by looking at the picture. What do you the title of this book is?
After writing this post I got my rear in gear and accomplished all these tasks! We really downsized Christmas this year. Every year I had told myself to stop going overboard shopping and this year I think I have finally accomplished that goal. Of course, not getting in the holiday spirit in a timely manner helped out a lot with that goal. Anyway, without little ones celebrating the holidays with us, we decided to get a small tree that we can plant in our yard--this saved time tree decorating. I only made a few batches of goodies because there aren't enough of us to eat the quantities I made on other Christmases. There has been a change of plans, mil was to have Christmas dinner at her house, but those plans changed and I'm now (as of yesterday) making Christmas dinner at our home and she's making one on Sunday (I don't know why). So, I'm popping a small ham into the oven and stuffing a chicken too. I'm not going to go overboard (2 main courses for only 4 people isn't going overboard???) for dinner. I have to tidy up a little bit and do a little food prep tonight and that's it until tomorrow. Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
One more towel ring finished yesterday. I made it while dh drove me to an appointment in Louisville. This is probably a "spare" gift and will go into my gift drawer. Or, I might give it to a gentleman friend of the family. He's a single guy and this is kinda "manly." ;) I always like to see a man with a dishtowel in his hands lol!
Here's this year's little tree. I can only remember 2 times my entire life that I haven't had a tree to the ceiling. One year I'm not going to go into but the other time was when dh and I had transferred to Hawaii the week before Christmas and were in a hotel room with the kids. I bought one of those small little bitty trees in a pot and did all my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve--what an adventure that was! We had our Christmas feast at a restaurant and went swimming afterwards. It was really a special time for us and the boys were amazed that Santa Claus had found them so far away from where we had been living. This little tree will be planted in our yard after the big day. I'm going to dedicate it to the special people in my family who are no longer with us.
No matter your faith and beliefs, may your day be blessed and the New Year too.
A cross, left near Ypres, Belgium in 1999, to commemorate the site of the Christmas Truce in 1914. The text reads:
1914 - The Khaki Chum's Christmas Truce - 1999 - 85 Years - Lest We Forget.
Christmas 1914, WWI is underway and the troops are homesick, melancholy, stuck in the trenches--cold and depressed. The men on both sides call an unofficial truce and an amazing war-time holiday commences! Below are a few accounts of this holiday truce.
Though there was no official truce, about 100,000 British and German troops were involved in unofficial cessations of fighting along the length of the Western Front. The first truce started on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium.
The Germans began by placing candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across the "No-Man's Land," where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco and alcohol, and souvenirs such as buttons and hats. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently-fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. The fraternisation was not, however, without its risks; some soldiers were shot by opposing forces. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, but it continued until New Years Day in others.
It is one of the most memorable episodes in military history: the famous Christmas Day truce of 1914 when the guns fell silent and British and German soldiers left their trenches to play football in the icy mud of No Man's Land.
The bitter enemies staged an unofficial ceasefire - shaking hands, swapping presents and autographs and singing carols to each other in what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described as "the one human episode amid all the atrocities which have stained the memory of war."
Now a moving first-hand account of the break in the carnage on the Western Front - one of the most poignant incidents of the Great War - has surfaced in the form of a previously unpublished letter written from the trenches on that remarkable day nearly 92 years ago.
Despite the horrors of daily life for the British Tommy - knee-deep in the slime of waterlogged trenches - the young private describes it as "the most memorable Christmas I've ever spent or likely to spend: since about teatime yesterday I don't think there's been a shot fired on either side up to now."
In pencil on five pages of paper torn from an Army-issue notebook, he tells his "dear Mater" how on a frosty, moonlit Christmas Eve the Germans began placing "lights all along the edge of their trenches and coming over to us - wishing us Happy Christmas etc."
"They also gave us a few songs so we had quite a social party...Some of our chaps went over to their lines. I think they've all come back bar one from E Co. They no doubt kept him as a souvenir," writes the soldier, frustratingly only identified as "Boy."
"There must be something in the spirit of Christmas as today we are all on top of our trenches running about." "Whereas other days we have to keep out heads well down...I had a parcel from B G's Lace Dept containing a sweater, smokes, under clothes etc."
"We also had a card from the Queen, which I am sending back to you to look after please."
"After breakfast we had a game of football at the back of our trenches! We've had a few Germans over to see us this morning. They also sent a party over to bury a sniper we shot in the week." "He was about 100 yds from our trench. A few of our fellows went out and helped to bury him."
"About 10.30 we had a short church parade, held in the trench. How we did sing. O come all ye faithful. And While shepherds watched their flocks by night were the hymns we had."
"Boy" breaks off to help prepare Christmas dinner - "fried bacon and dip-bread followed by hot Xmas pudding", then "muscatels and almonds, oranges, bananas, chocolate, cocoa and smokes."
"You can guess we thought of the dinners at home. Just before dinner I had the pleasure of shaking hands with several Germans: a party of them came halfway over to us. So several of us went out to them."
"I exchanged one of my balaclavas for a hat. I've also got a button off one of their tunics. We also exchanged smokes etc and had a decent chat. They say they won't fire tomorrow if we don't so I suppose we shall get a bit of a holiday - perhaps."
"After exchanging autographs and them wishing us a Happy New Year we departed and came back and had our dinner. We can hardly believe we've been firing at them for the last week or two - it all seems so strange. At present it is freezing hard and everything is covered in ice..."
Near the end of the well-thumbed letter, he tells his mother: "As I can't explain to everyone how I spent my 25th, you might hand this round please...I never expected to shake hands with Germans between the firing lines on Christmas Day and I don't suppose you thought of us doing so."
Kurt Zehmisch of the 134th Saxons recorded in his diary:
The English brought a soccer ball from the trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvellously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.
The Truce lasted all day; in places it ended that night, but on other sections of the line it held over Boxing Day and in some areas, a few days more. In fact, there parts on the front where the absence of aggressive behaviour was conspicuous well into 1915.
Captain J C Dunn, the Medical Officer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, whose unit had fraternised and received two barrels of beer from the Saxon troops opposite, recorded how hostilities re-started on his section of the front.
At 8.30 I fired three shots in the air and put up a flag with "Merry Christmas" on it, and I climbed on the parapet. He [the Germans] put up a sheet with "Thank you" on it, and the German Captain appeared on the parapet. We both bowed and saluted and got down into our respective trenches, and he fired two shots in the air, and the War was on again.
We must all remember this event as a symbol of what brings us together and what really matters in the world. The world can be a cruel and evil place at times, but even in the middle of the carnage of World War I, enemy forces could embark from their trenches and shake hands.
So in conclusion, I say to all on here (and yes I even include the Manchester United supporters) Merry Christmas and may God Bless you all during this special time.
The picture for this article is a cross, left near Ypres in Belgium in 1999, to commemorate the site of the Christmas Truce in 1914. The text reads:
The Khaki Chum's Christmas Truce
Lest We Forget.
Christmas seems to creep up on me every year and before I know it the day is about here and I'm not ready. Some sad things have happened close to Christmas in years past and I have to give myself a virtual kick in my backside (virtual because I'm not in very good shape!) and remind myself that life has been very good to me and that there have been so many more special Christmases and only a few sad/bad ones will not tarnish other Christmases--besides that I really have many, many blessings in my life and memories of tons of happy Christmases (decided "tons" was an appropriate word--tons of food, presents and that sort of thing). All the pretty decorations, projects, foods, trees and other neat stuff folks in blogland have posted are motivating me and making me feel a wee bit ashamed of myself for not being ready yet. So, here's the to-do list:
1. Gifts--Shopped for 1st time yesterday! Got all the gifts except 1 1/2! Need to finish crocheting dog crate cover for grand-doggies! Only need to finish-up sewing the pieces together and then weave in an almost infinite amount of yarn ends.
2. Tree--This year we got a "real" tree. Real as in planted in a pot and ready to be put in the ground. Need to decorate and it should only take 1/2 hour at most :). I chuckled when I first saw it and told dh that I hoped one of our strands of lights was SMALL enough lol!
3. Run to grocery store for just a couple items.
4. Bake some cookies. The big day's meal will be at mil's house so I don't have that to worry about that.
5. Misc crochet projects--If it ain't done by now it ain't gonna get done.
1. Get my rear off this chair in front of the computer and get moving!
2. Get the tree decorated and bake cookies today
3. Tomorrow I have an appointment with doc so while I'm in town, go to grocery store and get the last of the gift shopping done.
4. Friday night--make hot chocolate and eat cookies while wrapping presents.
5. The next few evenings, finish up grand-doggies crate cover while watching the tv with dh.
Sounds easy-peasy so that's my plan and I'm sticking to it!
Hugs to all of you and yours and may your holidays be joyous....
I made 4 towel rings today and paired them up with Christmasy dishtowels. One of these is a "duplicate" of 1 I've already posted so I'm really not posting a pic of the same one twice :). I'll gift these to some of the ladies in my family this Christmas. They don't read my blog so I don't have to worry about them seeing the pictures. Hope you have enjoyed visiting and thanks for stopping in. Hugs to all...
I started this set a while ago, as a matter of fact I think I showed you the dishcloth and towel ring already. The trim on the towels I just crocheted separately and then sewed on with my machine. Don't know who is getting this set but I'll figure it out. I was going to make a potholder but didn't get around to it so I'll call this set completed. Thanks for looking and stay WARM! lol!
Here is a Christmas episode from an old sitcom called Date with the Angels (1957-1958). Angel is the surname of a young couple--the wife is none other than Betty White! If I'm not mistaken, Nancy Kulp aka Miss Jane Hathaway of Beverly Hillbillies fame is also in this episode. This story illustrates the lesson that kindness to others brings happiness to one's self. Hope y'all enjoy...
If the blog's music player is on, please scroll down the column on your right and you will be able to mute the music player when you see it.
The schools around here are shut down for the day and businesses have delayed openings. Whew, must have been a heck of a big snow storm! Nope, not at all. There may have been a little dusting of snow (I didn't see any) but what we did get was an ice coating on everything! Son #1s plumbing froze at his house and he wanted a ride over here to use the shower before work this afternoon. I walked out my front door to go to my car and I slid on my fanny! Don't worry, I have a "plush" fanny and wasn't hurt--but decided that he could be a little stinker for the day ;).
Looks wet but it's ice. (This part of the porch is new and can't be painted until spring so that's why it's 2-toned)
See what I mean about ice on everything?
Sending all my friends a virtual hot chocolate!!!
Ooops, there's a bag of ufo projects in the corner! lol!
Down here in Kentucky by Fort Knox, we're getting ready for a major storm with snow, freezing rain and sleet. Had to go and get bottled water, canned foods and extra batteries for the flash lights. The gas stove we have now locks up and it isn't possible to light the burners with matches like our old stove so I got some propane for our camping stove just in case we lose power. We were without power for almost a week a few winters ago and it was kind of cozy sleeping on the futon mattress in front of the fireplace with the 2 chihuahuas snuggled with us. Hopefully we'll keep power this time. I'm ready for whatever happens. Y'all have a nice night and stay warm...
DH is finally willing to sell his Corvette. It is kept in the garage AND under a car cover. He just put over $1000 in it doing a fancy-smancy tune-up. Why??? I don't know because he only takes it out and drives it around the neighborhood every now and then. I think he'd keep it in a giant sized curio cabinet if there was such a thing. Anyway, it's a 1986, and the first $6500 takes it. Now don't you just want to put it in your driveway or garage? It's a "man-toy" needing a new man to adopt it and take home before the holidays.
Here are a couple poems remembering our veterans this holiday season. The first 2 are courtesy of Robert A. Hall, a veteran of the Marines and Massachusetts State Senate. You may visit his blog here.
A Veteran’s Christmas Wish
Each year when Christmas comes around again,
I pause on Christmas Eve to take a dram
Of whisky, and I think of absent friends,
And Christmas in a place called Vietnam.
I think of boys who never had the chance
To see their kids on Christmas Eve at play,
Their lives were spent that freedom might advance,
From Valley Forge right up through yesterday.
They fell at Belleau Wood and Normandy,
At Gettysburg, at Iwo and at Hue,
They gave their lives to keep our people free,
And never saw another Christmas Day.
So take a moment from your festive joys,
To think of soldiers who were young and true,
And say a prayer on Christmas Eve for boys
Who gave up all their Christmases for you.
Robert A. Hall
Former SSgt, USMC
Spell check notes: Scotch whisky has no “e.”
Hue (Vietnam) is pronounced “way.”
The Christmas Gift
There is a gift that comes
From those out on the lines,
It is not wrapped in bows,
But, oh, how bright it shines.
There is a Christmas gift,
A pearl beyond all price,
From those who ask for naught,
But make the sacrifice.
They risk their blood and bone
On endless weary tours,
For that is all that keeps
The evil from our shores.
You worship as you will,
You freely have your say,
And all that is a gift
From sentries far away.
There is a gift that comes
From troops who guard the line,
That lets us live in peace
And joy at Christmastime.
We say “Support the troops,”
But hardly pause to think
What honor really means,
Or how near looms the brink.
There is a Christmas gift
From those who hold the line,
And you and I, my friend,
Get nothing more sublime.
Robert A. Hall
Former SSgt, USMC
Here's another poem I found by another author:
A Soldier's Christmas Poem
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light
then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"
"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.
I recently finished this Woodland scarf. I had gotten the pattern off the Internet a few years ago. I had made this once before but there isn't a picture on the pattern I saved. Hmmm, thought it did. Anyway, the pattern I have does contain a source that the pattern came from and it isColumbia Minerva Learn to Crochet book, 1976. You start out by making a square and then crochet a "ripple" down 2 of the corners. You can see what I mean from the pictures. I really like this pattern except that the edges tend to curl a tad bit but I did a bit of smoothing with my fingers and it seems to work. This is a completed Christmas present.
When I crocheted this hat, I thought it was for an adult. I tried it on and whoa was it small! I used the pattern that I posted earlier this morning. I really like that pattern so I'm going to try and find a similar one in a grownup size. The pattern is fairly quick and very, very easy. I have tucked this hat away and maybe I'll review the copyright and see if I can sell it or maybe I'll just stash it for a future gift. Y'all have a wonderful week.
The following story is from the Project Gutenberg. It is a sweet story that teaches that gifts of value don't only come from the store. This story is now in the open domain and I am posting it here for your enjoyment...
The Potato Child
It was certain that Elsie had a very hard and solitary life.
When Miss Amanda had selected her from among the girls at "The Home," the motherly matron felt sorry.
"She is a tender-hearted little thing, and a kind word goes a great way with Elsie."
Miss Amanda looked at the matron as if she were speaking Greek, and said nothing. It was quite plain that few words, either kind or unkind, would pass Miss Amanda's lips. But "The Home" was more than full, and Miss Amanda Armstrong was a person well known as the leading dressmaker in the city, a person of some money; not obliged to work now if she didn't wish to. "If cold, she is at least perfectly just," they all said.
So Elsie went to work for Miss Amanda, and lived in the kitchen. She waited on the door, washed the dishes, cleaned the vegetables, and set the table (Miss Amanda lived alone, and ate in the kitchen). Every Friday she swept the house. Her bed was in a little room in the back attic.
When she came, Miss Amanda handed her a dress and petticoat, and a pair of shoes. "These are to last six months," she said, "and see you keep yourself clean." She gave her also one change of stockings and underclothes.
"Here is your room; you do not need a light to go to bed by, and it is not healthy to sleep under too many covers."
It wasn't so much what Miss Amanda did to her, for she never struck her, nor in any way ill-treated her; nor was it so much what she said, for she said almost nothing. But she said it all in commands, and the loving little Elsie was just driven into herself.
She had had a darling mother, full of love and tenderness, and Elsie would say to herself, "I must not forget the things mama told me, 'Love can never die, and kind words can never die.'" But she had no one to love, and she never heard any kind words; so she was a bit worried. "I shall forget how kind words sound, and I shall forget how to love," sighed the little girl.
She used to long for a doll or cat or something she could call her own and talk to. She asked Miss Amanda, who said "No." She added, "I have no money to give for such foolishness as a doll, and a cat would eat its head off."
Miss Amanda had been blessed with no little-girl time. When she was young, she always had been forced to work hard, and she thought it was no worse for Elsie than it had been for herself. I don't suppose it was; but one looking in on these two could not but feel for both of them.
Elsie would try to talk to herself a little at night, but it was cheerless. Then she would lift up her knee, and draw the sheet about it for a hood, and call it a little girl. She named it Nancy Pullam, and would try to love that; but it almost broke her back when she tried to hug Nancy. "Oh, if I had something to be good to"! she said.
So she began greeting the ladies, when she opened the door, with a cheerful little "Good morning" or "Good afternoon."
"I wouldn't do that," said Miss Amanda, "it looks forward and pert. It is their place to say 'Good morning,' not yours. You have no occasion to speak to your betters, and, anyway, children should be seen and not heard."
One day, a never-forgotten day, she went down cellar to the bin of potatoes to select some for dinner. She was sorting them over and laying out all of one size, when she took up quite a long one, and lo! it had a little face on it and two eyes and a little hump between for a nose and a long crack below that made a very pretty mouth.
Elsie looked at it joyfully. "It will make me a child," she said, "no matter if it has no arms or legs; the face is everything."
She carefully placed it at the end of the bin, and whenever she could slip away without neglecting her work would run down cellar and talk softly to it.
But one day her potato-child was gone! Elsie's heart gave a big jump, and then fell like lead, and seemed to lie perfectly still; but it commenced to beat again, beat and ache, beat and ache!
She tried to look for the changeling; but the tears made her so that she couldn't see very well; and there were so many potatoes! She looked every moment she had a chance all the next day, and cried a great deal. "I can never be real happy again," she thought.
"Don't cry any more," said Miss Amanda, "it does not look well when you open the door for my customers. You have enough to eat and wear; what more do you want?"
"Something to love," said Elsie, but not very loud.
She tried not to cry again, and then she felt worse not-to shed tears, when, perhaps, her dear little potato-child was eaten up.
Two days after, as she was still searching, a little piece of white paper in the far dark corner attracted her attention. She went over and lifted it up. Behind it was a hole, and partly in and partly out of the hole lay her potato-child. I think a rat had dragged it out of the bin. She hugged it to her heart, and cried for joy.
"Oh, my darling, you have come back to me, you have come back!" And then it seemed as if the pink eyes of the potato-child looked up into Elsie's in affectionate gratitude; and it became plain to Elsie that her child loved her. She was so thankful that she even kissed the little piece of white paper. "If it hadn't been for you I would never have found my child. I mean to keep you always," she said, and she wrapped it about her potato-child, and put them in her bosom. "We must never be parted again," she murmured.
At supper, with many misgivings, she unwrapped her treasure for Miss Amanda, and asked if she could keep it as her own. "I won't eat any potato for dinner tomorrow if you will give me this," she said.
"Well," answered Miss Amanda, "I don't know as it will do any harm; why do you want it?"
"It is my potato-child. I want to love it."
"See you lose no time, then," said Miss Amanda.
And afterward, Elsie never called the potato it, but always "my child."
She found a fragment of calico, large enough for a dress and skirt, with enough over, a queer, three-cornered piece, which she pinned about the unequal shoulders for a shawl. Upon the bonnet she worked for days.
All this sewing was a great joy to her. Last of all, she begged a bit of frayed muslin from the sweepings for a night-dress. Then she could undress her baby every night.
She must have heard a tiny tuber-voice, for she said, "Now I can never forget the sound of loving words, and the world is full of joy."
Elsie had a candle-box in her room, with the cover hung on hinges. It served the double purpose of a trunk and a seat. She put her child's clothes and the scrap of white paper in this box. In the daytime she let her child sit upon the window-sill so she could see the blue sky; but when the weather grew colder she took her down to the kitchen each morning, lest she should suffer.
Sometimes, Miss Amanda watched her closely. "She does her work well, but she is a queer thing. She makes me uneasy," she thought.
Christmas was coming. Elsie and her mother had always loved Christmas, and had invariably given some gift to each other. After their stockings were hung side by side, Christmas Eve, her mother would take her in her lap and tell her the Christmas story. So now it was a great mercy for Elsie that she had her child to work for.
One day, when she had scrubbed the pantry floor unusually clean, Miss Amanda gave her the privilege of the rag barrel. This resulted in a new Christmas suit of silk and velvet for baby; and this she made.
When Elsie left "The Home" the matron had given her a little needle-book containing a spool of thread and thimble for a good-by present. These now came into good play. She used the lamp shears to cut with.
When all was done the babe looked beautiful, except that it had no stockings. It had not even legs. "I'll make her a wooden leg, and let her be a cripple, then I shall love her all the better."
But after she had made the leg, and a very good one, too, she hadn't the heart to break the skin of her child, and push it in.
"I'll make the stockings without legs," she said, and so she did.
Elsie was very careful never to let her child see, or mention before her, how busy she was for Christmas.
She felt very sorry for Miss Amanda, and wished she had something to give her, but she could think of nothing except the piece of white paper she found with her potato-child. The afternoon before Christmas she took it from the candle-box, and smoothed it out upon the cover. It had some writing upon one side. Elsie thought it was very pretty writing—it had so many flourishes. Elsie could not read it, of course, but she hoped Miss Amanda would like it.
How should she give it to her? She didn't dare hand it to her outright, and she was certain Miss Amanda wouldn't hang any stocking; so just before dark she slipped into Miss Amanda's sleeping-room, and laid it on the brown cushion just in front of the mirror.
When Elsie had finished her work she went to her room, pinned her child's stocking to the foot of the bed and slyly tucked in the new suit she had made. Her own stockings lay flat upon the floor. Her breath caught a little bit as she noticed them. "But it doesn't matter," she said, "parents never care for themselves if they can give their children pleasure."
She crept into bed and took her child on her arm. The night was very cold. The frost made mysterious noises on the roof in the nail-holes and on the glass. She went to bed early because the kitchen was so cold. She thought "we can talk in bed." The lock of her door was broken, and she could not shut it tight. Through this the air came chilly.
Miss Amanda put on her flannel wrapper and her bed-slippers and sat down before the open fire in her sleeping-room. Some way she couldn't keep her thoughts from that little back attic room. She went into the hall, silently up the stairs, and stood outside the door. Elsie was talking softly, but Miss Amanda could hear every word, thanks to the broken lock.
"I have much to tell you to-night, dear child," she heard the waif say, "the whole story of the Christmas Child. It was years ago. His mother was very young, I guess about twice as old as I am. They hadn't any house; they were in a barn. I think there were no houses to rent in that town. But she fixed a little cradle for Him in the feed-box, and wrapped Him in long clothes, as I do you, my darling. The angels sang a new song for Him. A new star shone in the East for Him. Some men with sheep came to visit Him, and some rich men brought Him lovely presents. My mother told me all these things, and I mustn't forget them; it helps me to remember to tell it to you. So now, this lovely Christmas Child was born in a little bit of a town, the town of—oh, my child"—with a mournful cry—"I've forgotten the name of the town! I used to say it to my mother—it's the town of, the town of—I can't remember."
Miss Amanda could hear her crying a little softly.
"Never mind," she said presently. "I am very sorry; I have not told the story often enough. I wish I had some one to teach me a little, but perhaps it don't make so much difference if I have forgotten the name of the town. He came to teach us. Sure I won't forget that. Love can never die. That's the present He gave to everybody. So if nobody else gives us a Christmas present, we always have the one He gave us."
Silence for a little.
"I am very sorry for Miss Amanda, dear. She has no child to love. She has a very sad and lonely life."
Her teeth chattered a little. "It seems like a very cold night; the covers are quite thin, but we can never really suffer while our hearts are so warm. I'm glad you feel real well, and are just as plump as ever, but your little skin is just one bit wrinkled. You are not going to take cold or be sick? Oh, I couldn't give you up! I should miss you so much, you happy, good little child."
Miss Amanda heard a kiss. "Good-night, dear. I'm so tired. God bless us all, and help us to remember Miss Amanda, and let her find her present to-night."
Miss Amanda crept back to her warm room, and waited until she was sure the child was fast asleep. Then she took a down quilt off the foot of her own bed, picked up her candle, and retraced her way up-stairs.
She softly dropped the comforter upon Elsie. She heard, as a sort of echo, a soft sigh of content. Miss Amanda waited a moment, then shading the candle with one hand, she looked at the sleeping child.
The face was pale and thin. The lashes lay dark upon the white cheeks. They were quite wet; but, pressed close to them, and carefully covered by little, toil-hardened hands, was the grotesque potato in its white night-gown.
Miss Amanda was surprised by a queer click in her throat, and hurried out of the room.
She stood before her fire, candle in hand, and bitterly compressed her lips. She hopes "I'll find my Christmas present to-night. Who will send it to me, and what will it be? Whom do I care for, and who cares for me? No one. Not one human being."
She crossed the room, and, placing her candle upon the dressing-table, gazed at herself in the glass. "I am growing old, old and hard, and perfectly friendless."
But why that start and cry? There before her eyes, in the big, flourishing, boyish handwriting so well remembered, she reads: "Our love can never die. We have nothing in the world except each other, dear sister, and no matter what may come, our love can never change."
She snatched up the paper and threw herself into a chair.
"Where did it come from"? she cried. "What evil genius placed it here this night? Haven't I, years ago, torn and destroyed every word that wretched boy ever wrote me?"
She tossed her arms over her head, and rocked back and forth, and groaned aloud. She could not help her thoughts now, or keep them from going back over the past. Her heart softened as she remembered, and the scalding tears fell.
She was only a child, not much older than the one up-stairs, when her dying mother had placed her baby-brother in her arms, saying:
"He is all I have to leave you, Amanda. I know you love him. Don't ever be harsh or unforgiving to him."
How had she kept her trust? She had loved him. She had worked early and worked late for him. She had given up everything; but she had been ill-repaid.
"Ill," do I say? Verily, is this not true of Love: that it brings its own blessedness?
The fire burned low, and the room settled cold and still. She seemed to feel a pair of boyish arms about her neck and a boy's rough kiss upon her cheek.
When she was but a young woman she had moved to the big city, and started her dressmaker's shop, so that he could have a better chance at school. What a loving boy he was! So full of fun!
The wind whistled outside. She thought it was he, and she heard him again: "You're my handsome sister. Not one of the fellows have as handsome a sister as I."
How proud she had felt when she had started him off to college. "It only means a few years of a little harder work, and then I'll see my boy able to take his stand with anybody."
But now she wept and groaned afresh. "Oh, how could he treat me so, how could he! The wretched disgrace!"
He had been expelled. The president's letter was severe; but the young man's letter regretted it as only a boyish prank. He was sorry. He had never expected anything so serious would come of it. He deserved the disgrace. It only hurt him through his love for her. But only forgive him, and he would show her what he could yet do.
What had he done?
He had tied a calf to the president's door-bell.
She remembered her answer to this letter, asking for her forgiveness. It stood before her, written in characters of flame.
Had she in this been harsh to the boy, the only legacy her dying mother had to leave her?
"Never speak to me, nor see my face again. You have disgraced yourself and me."
It was not so long a letter but that she could easily remember it.
Afterward, the president himself had written again to her. He thought he had been too hasty. It was truly only a boy's prank. It was, of course, ungentlemanly, but the trick was played on All-Fool's Night, and that should have had greater weight than it did. The faculty were willing, after proper apologies were made, to excuse it, and take her brother back.
Where was her brother? He could not be found, and not one word had she heard of him since she sent that dreadful letter. He might be dead. Oh, how often she thought that! Now she wrung her hands and covered her wet cheeks with them. Her hair fell about her shoulders, as she shook in her agony of remorse.
What noise is this? the door-bell pealing through the silent house. Again and again it rings.
She did not hear this bell. She was listening to another, and how it rang! Louder and louder, how it rang, and well it might, with a calf jumping about, trying to get away from it. Even in all her misery—so near together are the ecstasies of emotion—she laughed aloud and then shuddered at the thought that she should never again hear any noise quite so loud as this of the past.
Then she felt in the silent, chill room a tattered presence, a little half-frozen hand upon her own. She turned her streaming eyes, and they were met by the big, wide eyes of Elsie.
"Miss Amanda, didn't you hear the door-bell ringing? There is something—no, there is somebody—waiting down-stairs for you."
Half dazed, half afraid, ashamed of her tears, Miss Amanda left the room, led by the child as by an unearthly presence into an unearthly presence.
Who was this bearded man that folded her in his strong, true arms?
"I have so much to tell you, dear child. I am such a happy little girl. Miss Amanda's dear brother has come home. She is so happy, and she loves him so much. And, oh darling, they both love me! And it was all you! You did it all! Oh, there is no knowing how much good one sweet, loving, contented potato-child can do in a house."