With three months to go, you will doubtless be horrified to learn that I am Making Christmas.
Every year I try to produce a few home-made gifts, generally of the Knitted
Variety. Since last Christmas, however, I have taken possession of a sewing machine (a bargain, as regular readers may - or, possibly, may not - remember) so all manner of possibilities have opened up. Plus, I am determined to start early as I always run out
of time to deliver on my gift intentions; last year I was knitting Christmas puddings on Christmas Eve and still didn't get them all finished. Had it been necessary to steam them for hours on end, I would have been even more challenged but, then, it's never
a good idea to steam a knitted Christmas pudding.
The members of our Nomination Whist group always like to check on my nimble-fingered progress. Last year I had a whole windowsill given over to my creations,
from Christmas puddings, to Frosty the Snowman, to two friendly reindeer, both with red noses. Which one was Rudolph? I hear you say. Well, that would be telling. By the way, talking of the Nomination Whist group, you will all be thrilled to know that I have
tracked down the elusive Thelma. In the end I wrote to her, a strange letter asking if she was "my" Thelma and apologising in advance if she was not. I didn't hear back for ages, so rather assumed she was off gallivanting, with or without Louise, but finally
she rang and left a message with Mr B to say that she was, indeed, The One, and was looking forward to joining our Merry Band next Wednesday. What a relief!
So, anyway, this year I am determined not to run
out of time, which means starting now. I uncover my sewing machine and try to remember how to wind the bobbin up. Young Faris and The Twinkles would doubtless tell me that they know a song about that, complete with actions. Which is all well and good, in fact
positively delightful, but absolutely no help in these particular circumstances.
Mr B says it is not his fault. In fact (he warms to his subject) it is very definitely my fault for leaving my sewing machine
unused on the kitchen breakfast bar for so long that I have forgotten even the basics of its operation. Guilty as charged, m'Lord. I turn several work baskets upside down in search of the explanatory booklet which I seem to remember being most helpful when
I first consulted it. I find a Quick Guide in several different languages and with accompanying pictures which, unfortunately, only serve to confuse me more.
Finally the booklet surfaces from beneath several
balls of different coloured wool, odd scraps of material (may come in useful for something Christmas-related?) and three copies of "Barnardos Today", all tucked away in my Odds and Ends basket. I wind the bobbin up. With actions.
Here I am, ready to go! I have some great Christmassy material, all cavorting snowmen and wriggling reindeer, which will easily make up into four useful draw-string bags. I am sure I will be able to think of something to enclose in
them, just give me time. All I need now is to find my dress-making scissors which have lain unused for about the same time as my sewing machine. I check the work baskets again, and turn out all the drawers in the sideboard - without success. All this takes
time and my happy feelings of Pre-Christmas Zeal are waning fast. Mr B says he hasn't seen the scissors and why don't I keep things in the same place so that I always know where to find them? I can't think of a good answer so I stay "mum."
I suddenly have A Thought. Upstairs on a shelf in the front bedroom, I find the missing scissors. Mr B says, just in case I am harbouring any completely unfounded suspicions, that he certainly didn't put them there...
I cut the material carefully into four pieces, pin one bag together and sit myself down comfortably at the sewing machine. Oh dear, oh dear, I need to thread the needle. This is quite possibly going to be tricky, what
with my stiff right arm and my watering eyes. I am right to be so pessimistic. It takes me two hours to thread the needle.
Okay, so I don't actually spend two whole hours trying to find the eye of the needle.
Every so often I get so wound up (rather like my bobbin, if you'll excuse the pun) that I have to take myself away from the battleground and do something else just to cool down. During these moments of respite I peel the potatoes for dinner, sweep up all the
peelings I have dropped on the kitchen floor, read the most interesting parts of the newspaper and somehow manage to avoid telling Mr B that I am Still Having A Bit Of Trouble. His home-spun wisdom is unlikely to help solve this (or any other) problem.
You have to admire my dogged determination, returning time after time to what seems like a Hopeless Task. At last, a brainwave. I slide a piece of thin card behind the needle, which makes the eye so much easier to see.
Within another ten minutes, the needle is threaded and Mr B will be excited to hear the hum of my machine as it does its work. Making Christmas is - finally - under way...
The next day I visit the Fabric Shop
(Mr B's least favourite shop in town - possibly in the world) to buy some ribbon for my Christmas bags. There among the racks of pins, needles, zips and Velcro fastenings, I find a small packet of needle threaders, "suitable for both hand and machine needles."
I am rapt. So is my find.
Ninety-nine pence. Cheap at the price for making Making Christmas so very much easier.