Friday, December 5, 2014

Out of Small Things...

This morning we read in Matthew 2 where the Wise Men  follow the star to the Christ child and present him gifts:  Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.  Whether the Wise Men already knew Herod's evil motive in locating Jesus, or not until their warning in a dream, the gifts they brought were expensive and precious.  For such a humble family, it was no doubt a fortune!  If the Frankincense and Myrrh weren't used for medicinal purposes, they could certainly have been sold for a handsome sum of money. That money would likely be required when the angel appeared to Joseph, warning him in the night that he had to flee to Egypt because Herod was coming for his child!  The expense of travel and lodging and establishing a new home in Egypt was no doubt an expense they had neither saved for, nor anticipated.  I'm sure they were so grateful for their generous visitors!  

Last year when we were visiting Utah during Christmas, we had our traditional Nativity Pageant.  Every year, for as long as I can remember, we would pull out a cardboard box of costumes on Christmas Eve, assign out parts, and excitedly wait to make our on-stage debut while Dad read from Luke 2.  We'd sing Christmas Carols around the piano, and enjoy hot cocoa from our Santa Mugs.  It was the perfect blend of fun and sacred, as we reflected on the birth of Jesus Christ.   I remember one particular year (it must have been the year Jon and Dawn were married), Grandma and Pop were visiting.  Pop was cast as a Wise Man.  He took the part so seriously, and he was so regal and reverent.  I'll have to find the picture we took.  So sweet.  We had so many kids, we even had parts for donkeys and sheep!  

As the years went by, we would occasionally make updates to the costumes (ie: New Burger King Crowns).  One year I was feeling rather wealthy, and I actually went over to the material store and got a couple yards each of purple, red and green fleece and hot-glue-gunned some sequence on them to update the wise men.
Josh and Peter last year as our modern-day "Wise Men".
 I think they are talking about computers.  

Christmas Pageant - 2012

As our family numbers have grown with grandchildren, Mom and Dad have tried to continue on the tradition, and it's always a big hit with the kids.  Last year as we were pulling out and putting together costumes for the pageant, Mom mentioned just as an aside, "You know, I should really update these costumes a little.  They are looking pretty sad."  A flash of inspiration struck, as I decided that a perfect Christmas present would be to re-create three fantastic wise men costumes for next year!  I shared the idea with Boo, and she was my sidekick and faithfully encouraged me all these many months.  "You know mom, we've got to really get crackin' on those wise men costumes!"

And so began our search.  Keep in mind, I have VERY limited sewing capability, so whatever costumes I found would need to be re-made from something already done (much like our Halloween costumes of the past).  Every month or so, we'd hit our local Goodwill store, and scour the racks and shelves for items we could use for our three wise men.

Halloween was a goldmine, and I actually found an entire hand-made purple wizard robe for $3.00, as well as a gold graduation gown for $1.00!  Two gold crowns were found in the toy aisle.  I wasn't sure I would be able to get away with hot glue gunning the rest of the pieces together (which is my go-to sewing technique), so I took a chance and looked through the "sewing aisle" and found two complete patterns of children and adult-sized Nativity Costumes 2/$1.00, as well as a huge bag of odds and ends of beautiful decorative metallic trims!  I found a green graduation robe on an e-bay bid to round out the costumes, and the guy gave it to me for half the price when I told him what it was for.

Some of the other items needed to be repurposed, but I was pretty proud with what we found:  A Pier One table runner for $1, a faux fur body pillow case $.50, earrings $.50, and a curtain panel $1, all added to the details I was looking for.
Pier One table runner, purple robe

Gold Graduation gown

Curtain panel

Complete costume patterns!

Thanksgiving break we really got to work.  I felt like Thanksgiving weekend was my deadline, and I wanted to have it in the mail by Saturday.  I had all the pieces by then, and just one item to sew - a red and gold vest that would go with the gold graduation robe.  I had just given a lesson in YW's about education and learning skills, and I thought, "Why can't I just learn to sew?  Surely this "Simplicity" costume can't be that hard."  I got some encouragement from my dear friend and amazing seamstress, Marie.  She assured me I could "totally do this."  I dusted off my old sewing machine, and looked up the old PDF instructions on how to thread the bobbin, set the tension, etc.  I watched You Tube videos on how to cut out and follow a pattern, how to sew a seam, how to add extra-wide, double-fold bias tape (good grief, it was challenging)!  It all came together.  It was so cool to be making something FOR my mom, on her very own sewing machine, especially knowing it was a total surprise!

I'm so pleased with how they turned out!  Josh was willing to serve as my model.  I wanted to take photos to send along with the package because some of them aren't self-explanatory as to how they go together.

Purple Halloween robe, table runner, earring and trim embellishments, Plastic crown

Green e-bay graduation gown, faux fur body pillow case, earring, trim, plastic crown

I love how this looked from the back!  Can you tell it's a pillowcase?

Finally, the vest I sewed (all by myself!), with gold trim, atop the gold graduation gown and gold plastic crown

We got it packed up in a big box with a card from us, and sent it off in the mail.  It was scheduled to arrive the Monday, and I must have checked the tracking numbers 50 times during the day to find out when it was delivered.  Little did I know, the day it was delivered, Dad and Mom were down in Salt Lake getting Dad's eyes checked at the Moran Eye Center, and he was tentatively diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis.  They came home feeling worried and discouraged, and finding that box from us was a real tender mercy.  Mom said,  "It was like you were right there with us."  I'm so happy I got the help I needed in order to give a little bit of joy at a challenging time.  It's a small thing, but I'm so happy The Lord is IN the small things - like inspired wise men bringing small but expensive gifts to help a little family at just the right time, or a an idea for a Christmas present, small bits and pieces of costumes, small stitches slowly pedaled by inexperienced hands to create something beautiful that arrived at the perfect moment.


Sarah said...

Wish I had had a meaningful idea for my parents to have been focusing on all year. Parents are always so hard to shop for, I think.
All three end looks look great! Bet you look forward to seeing them worn this season.

Dianna said...

Amy, you are one in a million and such a thoughtful daughter.