The summer I was fifteen, we were visiting the States and it was my turn to have a night alone at my grandparents' house. Being the middle of five kids + only seeing American grandparents every few years, it was especially special to know that each time we came to the US, we would each get a night at their house by ourselves, able to choose a movie and treat and have time with them.
This particular time, I brought a crochet project I'd been working on and I pulled it out during my movie of choice, setting it aside only to enjoy some of Mom-mom's homemade chocolate icecream with pretzels. At some point through the evening, Mom-mom and I got to talking about my crocheting, and she brought out a project of her own to work on next to me: a crocheted blanket of her own. I admired her pattern and asked her about it, and in turn, she showed me how she made hers.
I remember feeling awed at her work and connected by the fact that I was sitting on a couch, crocheting next to my grandmother, having come to a shared hobby through different roads and only discovering we shared an interest by happenstance. It felt special and poignant to be sitting side by side with her, separated by decades and a generation between us, but enjoying the same creative outlet with our hands.
The next morning, I requested my customary crepes for breakfast and then Mom-mom told me we were going on a special outing that morning: it was time to get me the yarn I would need to make my first crocheted blanket.
I still remember meandering through a yarn store with my grandmother, amazed at the colors and patterns and feels and looks of it all. So many options! So many choices. She walked me through what kind of yarn I would need and what my best options were, and then when I settled on the color I wanted, she proceeded to buy me 20 bundles of them of them to make sure I had enough to finish the project when we returned to Europe.
That summer I crocheted fiercely at every chance I had. I had taken copious notes when she told me what her pattern was, and I was determined to finish this project if nothing else ever. My lap grew heavier and heavier as the blanket grew. It was the biggest project I'd ever taken on, and for me, it was directly tied to my relationship with my grandmother-- something I couldn't let down or not do well.
It's been some 17+ years since that summer and I've put hundreds of hours into these blankets, making a number of them since. I still have that first one, missed stitches and all, but the others have found homes with friends and family. Like Mom-mom did, I've made and gifted mine since that first one; on the surface, yes, a gift of time, money, and effort, but on a deeper level a continuation of my grandmother's knowledge and patience, sitting side by side and making me take stitches out and recount what I'd already put in, and her love in getting me started on a project I wouldn't have been able to do without her.
And today? Today it's special to look around the living room as we listen to a book and see my kids at various stages in their hand projects, knowing that as they practice stitches and skills, it won't be long before I'll be pulling out Mom-Mom Craver's afghan pattern and teaching a new generation how to make it and pass the gift on to others.
Andrew and Melanie fell in love over late night snacks, dozing off in the middle of studying for exams, words, and a shared love for stories. We see stories everywhere: in the little day to day incidents and in the bigger sagas over days, months, and years of our time. We cherish the stories that root us and we rest in the Story that gives our lives meaning. We love seeing the threads of stories come together in gut-busting, belly-laugh-inducing, choke-on-your spit ways, and we love the gentle, quiet, easily missed stories that ultimately can play a bigger part in our lives than many other more obvious stories. We're young, we're old, we're growing, we're learning. We make a lot of mistakes, fall down a lot, struggle with life, sometimes sit in our sadness, but ultimately we pick ourselves back up again and keep on trekking. We're on a journey of parenthood now and have been for over ten years, learning and growing into it right along with our six children.