Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent Adventure

Years ago I worked at a small shop where we sold beautiful jewelry and Innuit art. This was The Shop on Cedar Avenue on the West Bank in Minneapolis – a strangely generic name for a little storefront with Lowell Lundeen's collection of handcrafted and collected jewelry, Linda Crawford's gallery of Innuit art, and Gary Crawford's pottery. Linda eventually opened The Raven over in Edina, and Lowell moved to the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis. I wonder if Gary is still making pottery?

Anyway, it was a stimulating place to work, and I've since looked back a number of times to reflect on what I learned there about running a small business, stocking it with quality merchandise, marketing, maintaining a local business partnership, and giving good customer service. The owners were very involved in every dimension of the store, and I made my first advertising posters there, the old-fashioned way, with ink and a drawing pen.

At one point I was very taken by an Eskimo embroidered piece on blue wool, and I remember examining it closely. Later that winter I found a remnant of blue wool that was almost exactly the same color and texture, so I snatched it up, having no idea how I would use it. (A common situation among those of us with the DIY gene.)

Eventually I had two children and a husband who would drive us on the long and winding road to Minnesota for Christmases with family and friends. During the long car rides, beginning when Jack was a baby, I made Christmas stockings out of the wool. I liked the fact that these stockings were blue, and I recall the pleasure of these journeys, the delight I took in making something along the way.

It took me a long time – a number of years – to finish this project, beginning with Jack's stocking, then Savannah's, then Andreas', and finally my own. They were all constructed by hand during those trips in the car up to Madison (where we often stayed overnight with good friends) and over across Wisconsin into Minnesota. Finally all four stockings were complete, and so I went on to make a few small ornaments out of this never-ending bit of cloth.

The kids have strong opinions about the images I chose, and the whole effort reminded me of the feelings evoked by the homemade Christmas stockings made by mother for my siblings and me. We examined every nuance of difference on those stockings, reading a great deal into them, fiercely preferring our own.

Finally, I still had one long piece of fabric left. I chose to make an advent calendar, inspired by one Andreas' maternal grandmother made after the war, given to me by his mother, Marlies. It is one of my most treasured gifts, and I gathered ideas from it for my blue calendar. There are 25 numbers and images, including little pictures of Jack and Sav, and my nieces Veitania, Jasmine and Jade.

I'm posting photos of those stockings today, and will snap a few of the calendar later in the day. It's December, and I'm overdue to hang the Advent calendar! Can it really be December already again?

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