December 25 was always her birthday. Ever since Mama Wilson (my mom’s mom) and her twin sister were born, hers was a Christmas birthday.
I’m not sure why Mama Wilson never made a fuss about it. Maybe having lost her twin sister to the fever (along with her father). Maybe she didn’t want to take up too much space? I’m sure someone did a birthday something at least once in a decade, but I don’t recall giving her a special and separate birthday present ever.
For two months, I bent my creative energy and back over a sewing machine and tried to channel Mama Wilson and her legendary sewing skills. Somewhere in between legend and this will do, I managed to make a little something out of leftovers for all of my mom’s grandchildren (five of Mama Wilson’s great-grandkids).
Inspired by a portfolio that I saw at a retreat this year, I made a pattern, used mom’s old jeans, pants, shirts, and an umbrella, and made portfolio bags for my children and niblings. It doesn’t make up for the years of neglecting Mama Wilson’s birthday, but I hope she’s smiling down on this convergence of energies: her skills, the memory of her fierce daughter, and the young lives unfolding.
Happy birthday, Mama Wilson
I can’t find a reasonably priced color wheel, but I’ve erected a couple of aluminum trees in your honor. Your memory, love, and even your loving meanness are stitched into the bags five of your great grands will carry. You’d be proud (or maybe disappointed) that, even though I banged up a knuckle on the needle mechanism, I didn’t run the needle through my finger. Not even once.
On this day, I remember you. I remember your scissors and skills, your dumplings and pies, and the tree. Legend has it that you would venture into the closet tucked in the heart of the house where the tree lingered in dusty darkness except for three weeks of December. After scooting the tree out, you would yank the sheet away to reveal a ready-decorated tree.
Today I realized you pre-decorated your tree before pre-decorated artificial trees were a thing. What a genius gift to yourself for your birthday month.
Happy Birthday, Mama Wilson. And Happy Birthday to all the Christmas Birthdayers making merry through this day.
©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022
Happy birthday to Mama Wilson. My nephew’s birthday is Christmas eve, and my brother’s birthday is Christmas day, but we’re Jewish so it’s not quite the same thing.
As a aside, a strange coincidence, my grandmother was a twin as well.
Based on twin patterns in our family, my cousins and I all expected to have twins, but none of us did.
When we remember loved ones, they live on in a way, and I am positive your Grandma Mama Wilson is smiling wherever she is. One of my grandparents was born on December 25, also, and my sister in law was named in commemoration of her near-Christmas birth. It’s a special club! Alana ramblinwitham
I believe that too, that remember and channeling them keeps them with us. I’ve debated with a couple of friends about the absolute worst birth date (one has hers on January 2, another on December 23, my cousin’s is December 26).
What a sweet tribute to Mama Wilson!