Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December and our sock monkey

Last year, pregnant and couch bound for a few weeks with a broken collarbone, I had the brilliant (well, I thought it was friggin' brilliant) idea of making all the ornaments for my tree.

I don't sew. It's not that I don't try to sew, it is just that I am horribly lousy at it. But what I did, and don't tell the internets this, but I googled felt ornaments on Etsy and attempted to copy them with ten bucks worth of felt and embroidery floss. Sure, I didn't know what a blanket stitch was at time, but I was determined to make sure my cheap glass balls from Tar.get would not get smashed into a thousand pieces when the curious girl noticed how much they are shaped like bouncy balls, only shinier. So, I sewed, and true to my crafting abilities, my ornaments looked like a sight-impaired and drunken five-year old made them. I didn't know that last year. I thought they were just swell. "Hey, Mama, look at the ornaments. I made them myself. All of them." And my mother swooned at them, and so did my sister. So cool AND homey. And safe for the girl. And she did pull them down often, and put them in a pile, and throw them at my head. You know, Christmas-y stuff.

We decorated this weekend. When I pulled out the ornaments this year, my face sunk. "Shit, the emperor has no clothes on AGAIN."

It is fine, you know, they still went up on the tree, despite their hideousness. Well, those and all the wooden and soft ornaments I have amassed over my adult life, which to be frank isn't that much. I now have a dog with a wicked tail, and a girl less interested in throwing breakable objects, but who has turned into a mini-me. "That does not go there, Mami. It goes here, Mami, okay? Oops." Sewing the ornaments was a good exercise to keep busy during the tedious weeks of sitting on my ass gaining weight last year. That is what they are now, the representation of the 'before time'. Before Lucy, we sewed and waited for her to come. Before Lucy, we loved Christmas. Before Lucy, we created traditions. I did buy one ornament last year during my Etsy searching. One ugly ass little ornament--baby sock monkey ornament.

The first time I attempted to sew a soft item was during Beatrice's babyhood. She came down with a case of RSV (I think she was six months), but she basically laid on my lap for two weeks--coughing, getting breathing treatments and breastfeeding. So, I found some old thick socks, a pattern for a sock monkey and created ubermonkey (tm). A demented, frightening sock monkey, but a sock money nonetheless. Bea actually loves sock monkey for some unknown reason. She carries him around by the tail. Often she wings it across the room at the dog. He flips around and performs death-defying maneuvers off the bed as we laugh until we cannot breathe. Sometimes Bea covers him in a blanket and puts him in her baby stroller, and I say something like, "Are you taking your baby for a walk, Bea?" And she says, "Noooo, that's silly. That my sock monkey, Mami, not a baby."

We sort of have some "things" in the house. Like, you know, things that sort of always get noticed, shrieked about, bounced over or otherwise adored: Gnomes. Monkeys. Sock Monkeys. Bicycles. Air Str.eam Campers. Since I imagined making Lucy a sock monkey later in her baby career, I saw that little ornament and bought it. It was Lucy's first sock monkey and her first Christmas (maybe, I didn't know at the time as she was due on my birthday [January 4th]), but she was our little sock monkey baby girl. I pulled it out this year, teared up and hung it high on our tree. I don't really do the angel thing, but it is the closest we get in this house. My little sock monkey girl.

The time from Halloween until my birthday has always been a time where my stomach gets jiggy wit it. YAY, it is almost Christmas. YAY, I am almost twelve. Well, you know, now I am almost *gulp* thirty-six. It doesn't bring the same type of excitement with it. It more resembles the excitement of a deep existential crisis mixed with a strong dose of crippling ennui. YAY, I'm thirty-six. Pass the bourbon.(I mean, pass the proverbial bourbon.)

When I turned twenty-six, which I cannot even believe was almost a decade ago, a few friends took me out for cocktails. One friend stood up and toasted me, "Angie, today you are twenty-six. Fidel Castro overthrew Cuba when he was 26, what have you done with your life?" Which isn't exactly true, because when I got home that night, I looked it up. CASTRO WAS THIRTY-THREE. Still, I get it. He had an army already. A plan. A mission. And I was still floundering by watching basketball in bars every night with him, talking about obscure religious practices, and gambling on chess with strangers.

This year everything is different. The Halloween season, while wonderful in its own right, also brought with it a definitive depression. October 22nd of last year, I was a passenger in a car accident at 29 weeks. It was the first time I thought of Lucy's mortality. I spent the night being monitored in the hospital, and she looked okay, though her heartrate dropped a few times during the monitoring. The broken collarbone was because of that accident, and after a series of shittiness, I just couldn't sort of amass that "Up with People" feeling that the holidays usually inspire in me. This year, I relived that feeling, like the smell of burning leaves and grey afternoons reminded me of the beginning of the end. We aren't sure what to expect this Christmas, but I am determined not to ignore the holiday or the season. I want it to be as jolly as ever. I want Bea to have our traditions. It is like falling off a bicycle, we cannot skip the holiday this year, or we will every year.

What will December bring? I just don't know, but so far so good. I have enjoyed trimming the tree, making new ornaments (one for each of our family members), and getting our advent calendar ready. For Lucy's day, we just have no plans. Maybe it will just be a day of baking, or cuddling, or wrapping gifts, or maybe, just maybe it will be a day for Lucy. I bought six homemade Moravian candles, some extra white pine, ready to collect a trove of holly berries from our bush (gonna be a cold one according to the local wisdom) and I am making a Sankta Lucia wreath for our table. Maybe I will light it, and eat some sweet bread. We can invite our friends and family, and let Bea dress in white. We will cry, and sing our sock monkey song. And remember the life we never lived with her.


  1. Love you lots, Angie. Here for you through your season of grief as well as the festive season.

  2. Sending you lots of warmth through this holiday season! xo

  3. oh Angie, so feeling you here. We put up the tree last night because as you so wisely said, "It is like falling off a bicycle, we cannot skip the holiday this year, or we will every year."

    Holding your hand as you take slow mindful steps through this month and into 2010. xoxo.

  4. Man, I haven't done the tree thing yet. Last night, there were two men screaming at the television. (Saints game) I have made ornaments. I have thought about putting it up. That counts right?
    I'm proud of you Angie, and I'm glad that Christmas is officially 'on' at your house.
    I'll be thinkin of you on Lucy's special day.
    Much love..xo

  5. Sending you lots of love Angie. I think your idea of Sankta Lucia day is just beautiful. I know what you mean about skipping the day and never wanting to get back on the bicycle if you did. Last year we skipped the holidays. This year, our house is the darkest/starkest on the street. I have lost the joy this holiday used to bring. I admire you, your determination to find joy in season for Bea. Thinking of you...

  6. Sending you the most gentle vibes...and hugs.

    Also wanted to just make sure everyone knows the holiday gift exchange partners are now posted:



  7. What a beautiful and powerful post. Thinking about you and sending all good vibes... xoxo

  8. I've been thinking of Lucy so much as December has been approaching.

  9. Yes, sounds like lots of good, poignant, thoughtful times to look forward to. I think all of the "stuff" in your house sounds cool.

  10. I always wondered what it would be like to relinquish tree decorating to Bella, because I loved it so much. I am not (!) a control freak (!) but I just adore unpacking everything, placing everything just so, making sure my eclectic ornaments balance out.

    I've really been in overdrive the last two Christmas', doing the bare minimum to just get through, and this year as I putzed around Bella decorated the tree by herself. And I strangely enjoyed it, watching it through her eyes, realizing sometimes I don't have to re-find my own joy, I need to give it up so others can have a fun experience.

    Hell if I'm sending out cards, though.

  11. thinking of you angie. i love that you are keeping up your traditions and starting new ones in your little family. its so important.
    for all of us, the holidays seem to symbolize more of what we don't have then what we have so i think we have to make a point to start fresh and do what feels right.
    i would still like to boycott the month of dec altogether and just get to the new year already.
    but i'll be thinking of you this whole month as you attempt to get through it- sock monkey and all.

  12. I thought about you & Lucy this morning when I flipped my calendar to December... Hope you're doing well, Angie.

    Much Love,

  13. I give you kudos for making all those ornaments and the sock monkey. Sewing is not my thing!! I can sew a button back on a shirt and I was able to make a few leggies but that's about as far as I'm going. lol

    I think it's great that you're doing all the traditions.

  14. This is the first time I've ever cried over a sock monkey.

    We're putting our tree up this weekend and I'm looking forward to it more than I thought I would. Hoping December is as kind to you as possible.

  15. *sigh* I get it Angie. Thinking about you alot these days.

    Love to you and Sam and Bea and Lucy........and the precious little baby bean too.

  16. thinking about you and lucy...and all that wasn't.

    sending you love, warmth and hugs this month.


  17. What a beautiful thing you are doing for Beatrice and for yourself. Looking back, I am glad that my kids won't ever have (I hope) a holiday memory of "that was the year we didn't do anything b/c our baby brother died" and at the same time, I will always wonder if not having that black holiday will somehow have fooled them into thinking that the death of their baby brother somehow escaped me and just didn't matter enough to change things...
    It's a wicked balance and I know I will never know if I got it right.
    Whatever you decide to do, I hope you get the feeling that you got it right.

  18. Oh. December.

    Homemade ANYTHING sounds great to me, but your decorations sound the best.

    And lady, you've lived a life of creativity and adventure that I adore hearing about. The way you remember Lucy, the way you are with Bea, your approach to just about everything, is incredibly inspiring to me.

    Love you x


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