Saturday, December 19, 2015

Storytellers Christmas: 100 Spools of Thread

In the story below,Flora and Henry Joy  offer their annual Christmas greeting to friends and family. It is a true story about Flora’s mom. EnJOY!


My wonderful mother had both a needle and thread by her side during most of my childhood, and she kept our family warm with both the quilts and garments she made. But things were different then. She had only ONE pair of scissors, ONE needle, and TWO spools of thread (one light and one dark). Those two shades had to suffice for all her stitching endeavors, and there were frequent color mismatches.
One year at Christmas the Sears & Roebuck catalog arrived, and I heard Mom gasp when she opened it. There on the page in front of her was a picture of a box of 100 spools of thread—each a different shade—with the unbelievable price of $2.99! The standard price for a spool of thread then was about 10 cents, so she figured this was truly a bargain that would give her lots of “light, medium, and dark” shades! We had never seen her so excited, and we convinced her to order it. When the package arrived just before Christmas, we all crowded around to share her thrills, but….

Yes, the box did contain 100 spools. Yes, there were 100 different shades. But the spools were miniatures—each less than an inch in height, with only about 2-3 yards of thread per spool. We all stared in disbelief—but soon she made sure we were all laughing and enjoying the holidays.
Mom never used any of that thread, but she kept it as a reminder of her “bargain.” Our new household saying soon became, “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.” I have always remembered that lesson, but before long I forgot about those spools of thread.

Decades later when I was cleaning out my mother’s house, I began with her sewing room. There were far more fabrics and notions than I could ever use, so I took several large crates of her sewing and quilting supplies (including that yet-unopened box of threads) to my local quilt guild and let anyone there take whatever they wanted. I shared the background story with the group, and once more I dismissed it from my mind—until this Christmas. At our December Quilt Guild meeting, a lady handed me a present: a small wreath made from those same 100 tiny spools of thread that she had gotten earlier. She suggested that I hang the wreath in a place where I would always be reminded of my amazing mother! I was emotionally knocked off the planet, and that special gift will always bring tears to my eyes!

Later I realized that I had received an even greater gift
that day by re-learning the deepest meaning of the old adage, “Tis better to give than to receive.” In my future I want to “give” to others in this manner! May each of you do the same, and may threads of joy stitch your families and friends closer together during the holidays and throughout the New Year!

Dr. Flora Joy is an award-winning quilter, author of numerous books, creator and editor of Storytelling World magazine, and an all-round fabulous storyteller and educator.
From her website: Dr. Joy graduated with honors (B.S.) and began teaching at age 18 (two years after high school graduation). [She still holds the record for being ETSU’s youngest graduate.] Four years later she received Master’s Degree in Reading (M.A.) and was selected Teacher of the Year for the State of Tennessee. She taught full-time from 1963-2000—from elementary through college levels, and in 2000 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Storytelling Network. From August of 2000 through May of 2004 she served as a Senior Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and then segued into full retirement from teaching in May of 2004. In 2011 she was inducted into the ETSU Alumni Hall of Fame for the College of Education.
In April of 2013, the campus of East Tennessee State University named a new street after Dr. Joy. 

To see some of her amazing quilts, go here. To buy her book of European stories and classroom activities, go here. For many, many more books and other publications by Dr. Joy, go here.


Lynn ruehlmann said...

How beautiful, Flora! I bet many of us have tiny treasures from our Moms--things that no one else would see as having value!

Mimi Foxmorton said...

And a Blessed Season of Joy to a most magical Teller!
The Collage Pirate

Mac n' Janet said...

What a wonderful story!! you

Marilyn said...

Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it, Flora and Granny Sue.

Michelle said...

Simply a beautiful story. Merry Christmas!

Unknown said...

Love the memory. Love the wreath. Thank you for sharing.

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