In the decade since I became a guardian of hundreds of aprons, I have unearthed hundreds of stories. Over the years, I came to understand that an apron memory isn’t a scholarly dissertation mired in dusty facts and details. It is a story of family life, a personal history that engages and catches you up in the telling and the listening. Without the stories, aprons are just so much fabric. It’s the memories they evoke that make them so powerful.
Holiday aprons especially provide a genre of stories that push emotional buttons because they speak to everyone, regardless of the religion behind the celebration.
“I was born in 1931, during the Great Depression. The Christmas when I was 4 years old, Santa did not show up at our house with a big bag of gifts; my parents, however, did see that my brother and I got at least one gift. My brother’s present was an orange, and my gift was a little pink apron trimmed in white rickrack. I loved it and showed it to everyone. It meant so much to me, I wore it until it was falling apart.
That little apron was such a sacrifice to my parents. I can’t imagine what they went without so I might not be disappointed on Christmas morning.
It was my best Christmas present ever.” Mrs. Martha B Pugh
“This photograph was taken at my paternal grandmother’s house on Christmas day, 1944. My mother, Kathryn Jago Smulick, and my four-year-old sister were visiting Grammy Smulick, as was the Christmas morning tradition. Four of Grammy’s six sons were in Europe fighting the war.
I’m sure it was a good diversion to have my sister there to take their minds off the worry that is so evident on my mother’s face.
There was always plenty of traditional Polish food to eat, and my mother’s apron reflects her help in preparing it.” JoAnn Kuzmiak
“I remember my grandmother wearing a special apron at holiday time. I especially remember the time that she thought her wedding rings had gone down the sink. My dad and grandfather literally dug up the backyard that Christmas (it was really cold out!) looking for her rings. The rings were not found.
The next year at Christmas, she put her holiday apron on, and there were the rings in her apron pocket.” Nethanya
“My Mom had a hope chest that she used to “put aside” special things for my sister and me, like beautiful pillowcases edged with lace and tablecloths that were made by my grandmother. She also stored some old clothing that had been handmade by her, which she probably hoped our daughters would wear someday. When my sister got married she took her hope chest items with her.
After both our parents died, my sister and I were going through the contents of their home. It was a very emotional task, especially when we went through the hope chest. All the years without Mom, and Dad hadn’t disturbed the chest’s contents. Inside, we found our christening gowns, little winter coats from when we were very small, caps with rabbit fur balls on the end of the tying ribbon, some linens and two tiny aprons.
This picture was taken on Christmas day, 1954. My sister’s kitty face apron is pink and white stripes, and my puppy face apron is blue and white stripes.
You can tell by our Santa haul that we were lucky little girls, and much loved by our mother, who sewed our matching aprons to tie on Christmas morning.” Jennifer Utter
Whatever your brand of tying one on (…an apron, of course!), may you make joy-filled
memories. Merriest Christmas!