Last week I took the Captain to the doctor for a checkup, and he needed to have a booster shot. While we were waiting for the needle to arrive, I told him a story my mother often told me growing up.
While in school, they sometimes had to get a shot and they always had to line up in alphabetical order, by last name. My mother’s maiden name starts with “T” and so she was always near to the end of the line.
There was a girl whose last name fell a few letters before hers, and she hated needles. Every single needle day, this girl would carry on in fear, wailing and crying, and then inevitably faint when she got to the front of the line.
My mother, who is the ultimate in sensible, never had any patience at all for all that drama. She vowed that when she got older, she’d marry a man with a last name that started with “A,” so her own children would get the whole needle line over with quickly and never have to deal with the likes of Fainting Drama Girl.
And indeed she did. My maiden name starts with “A.” I don’t remember ever having to line up for needles by last name, but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry.
We were hanging up our Christmas stockings on the weekend. In our family, we all have handmade stockings from felt; all my sisters and their children, as well as my aunts and uncles and cousins on my mother’s side. Green for the boys, red for the girls, cut from the same ancient pattern. Each stocking has your name at the top on a while border with holly, and then handmade felt shapes all over the front that represent who you are and what kind of things you like.
This tradition started with my mother. When she was in Grade 8, she had to make a stocking just like this – the first stocking – for a Home Economics project. She chose to make one for her younger brother, my Uncle Mark. It had a train on the front among other intricate decorations and she worked long and hard on it.
When she went to hand it in, some other girl in the class had decorated BOTH the front and the back – even though that was not the original assignment. She threw off the grading curve, earning an A while my mother and all other girls who had made lovely stockings had to settle for a B.
You should definitely ask my mom about this if you see her, because you can still hear the bitterness in her voice some sixty years later. Some injustices you just don’t get over, I’m afraid.