Thursday, July 3, 2014

Christmas in July: Camo Tree Skirt

Most of the sisters. And the brother.  And Mom.

I have a lot of sisters and a brother.  When my niece was born 25 years ago, I could only imagine how many nieces and nephews I might have.  (Of course 25 years ago, I was in the thick of imagining that I would have children too.  And a husband.  Preferably before the kids.  I had a vivid imagination and a lot of hope 25 years ago.)

The math was easy enough. If all 8 of us had just 2 or 3 kids, the possibility of a couple of dozen in that generation loomed.  Imagine all the Christmas presents I’d be on the hook for!  I could also foresee all the Christmas presents that would be outgrown and forgotten.  So I hatched a plan that would make potentially overwhelming future Christmas-present-buying do-able.  As a side-effect of my plan, I could expect that some of the gifts I gave those kids-yet-to-be-born would be remembered for a long time.   

Every year, I give my nieces and nephews a Christmas ornament.  In their senior year of high school, I give them a tree topper.  And the following year, I make them a tree skirt.  (Except poor Zoe who is still waiting for her tree skirt 4 years later.  Though when it’s done, it will be magnificent)

This past Christmas was Christmas-tree-skirt-year for my oldest nephew.  The thing that turned out to be brilliant about giving ornaments every year is that they serve as a sort of log of the varying obsessions my nieces and nephews have had over the years.  (There have been a LOT of Hello Kitty ornaments.)   

From a very young age, my nephew has loved the outdoor life that leads to hunting in Western Pennsylvania where he is being raised.  (He probably thinks that’s past tense, but nobody is fully raised by 19 or 20.) 
His collection of tree ornaments is probably the least eclectic of any of the kids’.  There are all sorts of woodsy animals made of a variety of materials.   

And one Darth Vader ornament.  

 (His other spinster aunts introduced him to Harrison Ford at an early age with both Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies.  It was self defense against a certain purple dinosaur that was obscenely popular in his developmental years.)

I spent a good hour at the fabric store trying to decide which fleece would make a nice tree skirt.  I went back and forth and finally chose a red one with paw prints all over it.  It was between that and the camo.  He has always loved camo.  Since he was old enough to have an opinion about clothes.   The red paw print fabric seemed so Christmasy. 
I brought it home and looked at it for a while.  And then took it back and exchanged it for the camo.   
So what if it isn't exactly Christmasy?

So what if it wasn’t as Christmasy?  It was definitely something I knew he would love.  (And the longer I looked at those paw prints, they more they appeared to be domesticated canine prints.  Not something woodsy like deer or bear.) 

Still, it is a Christmas tree skirt.  So it needed some kind of bling.  I turned to the classic rick-rack as I so often do.  My grandmother who was my sewing mentor had a deep and abiding dedication to the stuff.   

So here is a close-up of the camouflage tree skirt with jumbo gold rick-rack trim. 

Jumbo rick-rack bling on camo

I like the way it turned out.  I could imagine my nephew using it for a tree in a bachelor pad where the decorations are beer cans.  Or maybe some day if he gets married and has a family, it could be on a tree in his man cave.

But the thing I love most about this tree skirt is how much HE loved it when he opened it.  So what if he was 19? He loved it so much he wrapped himself up in it and wore it as a cape for the rest of Christmas Eve.  (He also loved a gift from one of my sisters that involved a spinny cushioned seat to top a 5-gallon bucket for fishing.  So he spent the night spinning in his cape/skirt)
Tree skirt, stingray or cape?
In the end, only 5 of my siblings had kids, so I lucked out with more like a dozen nieces and nephews instead of the 24 I had anticipated.  Still, I am so glad I made that plan 25 years ago.  I have had so much fun choosing ornaments each year that suited their interests.  I love looking at their trees and seeing woodsy animals and Darth Vader or Nutcrackers and Hello Kitties and grand pianos and…

I really should get started on the ornaments for this Christmas.  There are a lot of  Doctor Who-obsessed nieces and nephews these days.  And for the older ones? Game of Thrones, of course!

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