Sewn With Love
by Stephanie Simpson-Woods
Okay, so maybe I am a statistic, but out
of any of the 365 days in a year my favorite day is Christmas. I know you have all heard this before, but I feel it is the
only day of the year when people sit down and actually appreciate one another. The one person I appreciate the most on Christmas
is my Grandmother. No, she's not much of a sight. She's ninety-three-years old, reeks of Ben-Gay, the hair she does have is
a mess of thin gray curls that barely cover the cracked, yellow skin flaking from her liver spots, and the poor woman, even
her dentures are yellow, but when I saw a little girl, every December 25th , out of the sheer kindness of her heart,
she came through for me.
I remember back when I was 9 and all of
the little girls on my block had their Wonder Woman Under-Roos in a bunch, excited over some goofy doll with hair of yarn
and some weird man's signature on their asses. I think his name was Xavier or something, but those dolls weren't my style.
Fuck My Little Pony, fuck Strawberry Shortcake
and fuck Barbie. They were plastic, and the dolls that did have tits didn't even have nipples. They all looked the same aside
from their dyed hair and sparkly garments. They lacked true realism, they were short of detail and what upset me the most
was that they didn't have the soft, spongy flesh I used to love curling up to at night when my Mother would crawl into bed
with me after one of my silly, childhood nightmares.
Anyway, that year when all of my girlfriends
were napping after a long Christmas Eve filled with turkey, carols and midnight mass, dreaming about their She-Ra dolls, Garfield
Color-Forms and what-not, I was thinking about my Grandma and the special gift she brought me every year.
That Christmas morning I crawled out from
under my blanket and ran under the small, fake tree my Dad put up every year. The air was filled with the pine scented arousal
mist my Dad had sprayed on it since he thought buying a new tree every year was far to expensive, and the smell of freshly
brewed coffee. As usual, there were no presents under the tree, just some scattered pieces of broken garland and loose tinsel.
I know, it sounds depressing, but it never really bothered me. I knew Grandma would be arriving soon in her red, polyester
dress and the white shawl she had knitted herself and wore every year.
When my Grandma arrived, she walked into
the house, striding proudly through the front door with a red sack over her shoulder. Her leathery, pink lips grinned from
ear to ear and her teeth, which were real at that time, were mostly black, but were as radiant as a black pearl just pried
from the mouth of some helpless oyster. Tossing her sack to the ground, she smiled at me and said, "I did it again this year!
I grabbed ol Santa by the groin and squeezed until he dropped his sack!" My Grandma had always had a very odd sense of humor.
After feasting on a variety of spiced meats
and flavored veggies, we gathered around the Christmas tree and sipped on hot cocoa until we were ready to open Grandma's
sack. This was always my most favorite of all the special moments we shared on Christmas: the warmth of the cocoa, the anticipation,
the feeling of a full stomach, the hum of Judy Garland's voice coming from the record player, the sound of my Grandma in the
bathroom down the hall purging up the numerous amounts of eggnog she consumed that her weak stomach couldnt keep down.
When she finished, she entered the living
room, the sleeve from her red, polyester dress against her mouth wiping the vomit from her lips. First she handed out what
she had brought for my parents and my Brother. My Brother was a car freak, so he always got some sort of small, metal toy
with wheels. My Mom received a new sweater my Grandma had hand made for her and my Dad got what he said he needed every year:
socks and underwear.
Then, it was my turn. My face lit up when
my Grandma pulled my present from the bag. As always, it was wrapped in the prior days newspaper, which was held together
with Scotch tape. When the familiar smell filled the room, my eyes widened so much they could have twinkled. Handing the bag
to me, my Grandma looked into my eyes with nothing but love in her heart, well, that and whatever else it was clogging her
arteries, and said, "A new one for your collection."
I quickly snatched the heavy package from
her grasp and tore off the paper. I looked over my new prize and smiled with approval. It was a doll and not just any doll,
it was a doll my Grandma had stitched together with her own shaky hands, each piece hand selected by her, just for me. I dropped
my new doll to the floor and jumped into my Grandma's arms, hugging her with all of my tiny might then went back to my new
doll, cradling her in my arms as if she were a real life baby.
Her eyes were a whitish-blue and her pale
cheeks were painted rouge. I could tell that there were a few bruises and scabs on her face, but Grandma always did the best
she could to cover them up, painting all of my dolls faces as if they were made from porcelain, trying to hide any of the
imperfections created while gathering the pieces for the doll. One of her arms were long and covered with small patches of
curly, black hair, the other was shorter and had been severed at the elbow so it would almost match the length of the other
arm. The torso wasn't actually a torso. A real torso would have been way too big, so my Grandma had taken someones thigh and
attached the mismatched arms to it, then drew on a tiny belly button with permanent marker. The legs were also made from mismatched
arms; a pair of tiny white leather baby shoes covered the fleshy stumps where someone's hands had once been.
I brought my doll to the fireplace and warmed
her cold, soft flesh; toying with the lace embroidered into her frilly pink dress and searched my mind for the perfect name.
"Angela," I whispered to myself. "I will
name her Angela."
As years passed, my Grandma brought me more
dolls, each of them different, but still sewn with love. Now that she is ninety-three she no longer has the energy to make
the dolls. The parts are way to hard to gather and her arthritic hands can no longer sew a straight line. Unfortunately, due
to how quickly my dolls decomposed, I couldn't save my collection to share with my own children, so now, each year, a week
before Christmas I do my Christmas shopping after dark, my meat cleaver in one hand and my red sack in the other. I collect
the pieces to my beautiful little puzzles and put them together with nothing more than a needle and fishing line, just as
my Grandma had. Lucky for me, I have two little girls to share my craftsmanship with each Christmas.
Copyright Stephanie Simpson-Woods 2004
Stephanie Simpson-Woods is a freelance writer and the author of the new-age Vampire tale, 'I.M. Internet
Message'. For more information on this author, please visit her website at www.stephaniesimpsonwoods.com
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