Monday, December 5, 2011

The Habit of Gathering

I read somewhere that you need to repeat an action 21 times in order for it to become a habit.


I'm not sure if that's completely accurate.

Our CQ group has been gathering at Maureen's house for our Holiday Ornament Exchange for at least 6 years...and I can't imagine a year going by that we didn't all go.


Maureen manages to carve a little niche in the over-busy-ness of the modern holiday season...a pit stop on the racetrack to December 25.

She cleans her home, she sets her table, she makes the tea, and cooks all the food...

And we go away being nurtured by so much more than what we eat and drink.

Perhaps it's the ritual itself.

The time we each commit to gather together. To celebrate our group, to celebrate our love for crazy quilting...it has moved beyond a common party.

It has become a ritual, a practice that strengthens us, that provides a feeling of peace and harmony, and that spills over and enriches everything we do.

It didn't happen on the first time we gathered, or even on the third...but somewhere passing 4 or 5...it became ritual.

And this holiday season, I am grateful to all the Maureens.

To all the torchbearers...who clean their homes, and bake the cookies, and nourish their guests...who enrich the lives of all they hostess. The world is a much better place for the gift of their grace. And their time.

So, if you're a Maureen this holiday season, and you're feeling tired and overwhelmed...remember the true gift isn't the presents or the cookies or the tree...

It's the habit of gathering.


And the sense of belonging, order, harmony and significance that gathering engenders.

And yes, we also have another habit of making and exchanging Christmas ornaments for each other.

In the picture above, you can see Bobbi on the left is holding one only partially complete...that would be mine.

I made Kate's Mitten, to commemorate this year's Royal Wedding, and had to finish whipping it together during the party. Thank goodness they all know me well and weren't offended by my showing up only partially-complete.


In homage to the lace appliqued to Kate's wedding dress, I tried couching lace again on the front of the mitten...this time using a machine-made lace...

It did not look nearly as nice as the couched lace I used on my Breakfast at Tiffany's piece so I stitched over most of it to cover it up.


Flipping over to the back side, I just love how that flag turned out...



I've always loved the graphic nature of the British flag...why is that? Was I British in a former life?

Bobbi's ornament was designed after one of those old-fashioned card ornaments...


She always does such interesting shapes. Last year, she made me an angel and the year before a teddy bear.

And this purple one from my friend Carolyn....


I absolutely love that basketweave with the glitter ribbon.

And lastly, Maureen made this jingle bell star...with a beaded lace stumpwork flower...


Isn't it marvelous? She was encouraged to try beaded stumpwork after reading about my stumpwork Tiffany butterfly on this blog. I think it turned out beautifully and we've had lots of subsequent discussions about what is the best wire and metallic thread...etc.

As you can tell...I'm very fond of this group of women.

And over the years, we may lose or gain a friend or two from the group...but the habit of gathering remains the ritual that binds us.

That...plus the grace of all the world's Maureens...

God bless you all.

20 comments:

kaiteM said...

such a glorious post, filled with beauty, love, generosity, wonder, and of course glory. i look forward to next year's festive gathering now.

Linda H said...

Beautiful!! Beautiful women and beautiful ornaments! You are all blessed to have each other...

MosaicMagpie said...

What a wonderful fun ritual to have. Yes it is the "Maureens" that make the holidays special. The ornaments are beautiful!
Deb

Laurie in Iowa said...

Gorgeous ornaments.

Wendy said...

Such a warm and cozy post! Gathering with friends is always a wonderful thing and the ornament exchange is just icing on the cake....You guys are so blessed to have each other to celebrate with...Hope the rest of the holiday season is happy and joyful for you as well!

Glenda said...

What beautiful ornaments - thank you for sharing up-close photos of them.

I recently looked at your posts for the past several holiday gatherings / ornament exchanges -- what a lovely thing to do admist the busyness this time of year :-).

Saturday Sequins said...

This post made me very happy. I love that you have such wonderful friends, and such a wonderful hostess. And what beautiful ornaments!

Honestly, I love hosting. I love giving people a comfortable place to unwind, and I love feeding them. I could do it every week -- hey, that would motivate me to keep the house clean! ;)

-- Sarah

Judy S. said...

Sounds like a very fun gathering, and what a creative group! Love your mitten (both sides)...and the fur is from? Friends and family, that's what the holidays are all about, isn't it?

Rachel said...

It sounds like a wonderful day, and I think your mitten turned out wonderfully well!

Susan Elliott said...

Judy, the fur is from a vintage hat that had seen better days...I've been slowly dismantling it.

Suztats said...

As I get older, (and hopefully more mature lol) I recognize that it is the coming together of family and friends and the re-connecting that makes the Holidays so special. Lovely post.

verobirdie said...

You are more than right. We are all very thankfull to have dedicated persons like Maureen. Wish her a happy Xmas on my behalf.

Allison Ann Aller said...

Love seeing those dear familiar faces!
The ornaments are terrific, too... ;-)

Ulla's Quilt World said...

Hi! Greetings from Finland! Your quilts are so fantastic! It's so nice to find other quilters all around the world! www.quiltworld2.blogspot.com
Yours, Ulla

Lisa said...

How wonderfully blessed you all are to have such a group of friends and the joy of such a fun tradition! Lovely ornaments too, but the best part is the smiles on everyone's faces!

coral-seas said...

Ah! It looks like you all had a lovely time and the ornaments are wonderful - something to treasure.

Catherine said...

What fabulous fun, friends and goodies!!

Barbara C said...

I love that mitten! You got some wonderful inspiration from that wedding.

Hélène said...

Gorgeous ornaments and that cool mitten looks sooo British (in French we have a song about a kitten who lost his mittens so his mum won't let her have chocolate pudding until she finds it again).

Your post is truly inspirational and comforting. A merry festive season to you, your family and friends.

Balwearie said...

I honestly can't say which side of your ornament I like best but I do love that you stitched over the lace to give it more upmf. What a wonderful collection of friends and ornaments!

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