When my sons were little they were in a Christmas Nativity pageant. At the time I agreed to help out and make several costumes. One was for the child playing the angel Gabriel. I didn’t have a lot of money back then, so I had to get creative and use what ever was on hand.
Seeing I wanted to make the costume full and flowing, I would need several yards of white fabric. I remembered seeing a white sheet in the attic. I had no idea how old it was. It definitely would give me enough material for my idea. I then had some leftover lace, white satin ribbons, antique pearl buttons, and some small sequins. I could do this! And with no pattern, just a design in my head sketched onto paper, I put the costume together.
Ten years go I wandered back to that church and happened on their children’s Christmas pageant. When the angel “appeared” my jaw dropped. She was wearing my sheet dress! Many years had gone by and they were still using it! I was shocked and amazed!
After the service I slipped back to the choir room where parents were packing away the costumes. I asked the mother holding the angel costume if I could look at it. She told me her daughter wore it this year and it was up to her now to have it dry-cleaned and put away. I almost laughed in her face. Did she know it was only made from a sheet I found and scraps of lace and ribbon, costing me nothing to make?
Before I could comment, she added, “Every year the girls beg to wear the wedding dress. They love it. Isn’t it pretty?”
I bit my tongue and my jaw dropped a second time. I looked down at the costume in her hands and melted. It was indeed well taken care of over all these many years. The cotton sheet material was a little dull, but also softer. The lace bodice overlay still looked crisp and the satin ribbons that trimmed the bell shaped sleeves and the skirt had taken on a nice patina. Yes, it was pretty. And it was pretty remarkable that it was still in use. My spur of the moment gift from humble scraps had endured and was loved and made children happy. I smiled at the woman and left, not telling her I had made it, and smiled all the way home, and into the holiday season.
But wait, there is more!
Two years ago I attended that church and noted in the bulletin they were looking for volunteers to help with the pageant costumes. With fond memories filling my heart, I said yes. I asked the woman in charge what costumes were needed. She told me they wanted to replace several that had grown tired looking. You guessed it, one was the angel costume. I jumped on that. Oh, and a couple others, too.
This time I could afford better fabric and trims. As for the design, all I could think of was the old sheet costume and how many children wore it, they grew up, and then their daughters or sons may have wore it in the pageant. I needed to stick to tradition. I decided the old design was just fine and recreated it with much attention and detail. With luck, the new costume will last as long as the original one did!
The pageant went off without incident and all my costumes fit well and the children looked lovely. Mission accomplished, I faded away, carried on an inner smile that only comes with making others happy and not asking for anything in return. A gift is just that!
May your holiday season be full of the spirit of giving, for you never know how one act of kindness or generosity (or a simple sheet dress), could cause a ripple effect through other people’s lives.
Happy Holidays! Atwood
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