Diana D. Schutz:
I first laid eyes on it in an antique shop, nestled among odds and ends, pushed toward the back of an otherwise nondescript assortment. Safety-pinned to its front and dangling from a short white string was a small tag: "$5.00 Vintage." Was it really?
Yes, there was no doubt about that. It was homemade (and not in China either) with an attention to detail probably taught by a mother to her daughter, or maybe in a long-ago Home Ec class. Perhaps it'd even been a 4-H project. All these possibilities came to mind at that moment of "love at first sight." I knew this apron, with its old-fashioned Christmas design, was going home with me.
It was smudged from disuse and from sitting amongst the display. I wondered how long it had been there, waiting for someone to come along and want it, to see its simple beauty.
"There seems to be something special about this apron," I thought to myself, on the way to the cash register.
The first order of business was to give it a bath, after which it hung in the crisp fall air on my clothesline overnight. No fabric softener can make clothes smell sweeter than this.
Ironing my new old apron the next morning reaffirmed my judgment; the fabric was 100 percent quality-grade cotton, the border print of Christmas trees subdued rather than garish like most modem holiday colors and designs. As I ironed and starched I wondered about the lady (or ladies) who'd worn my apron.
I could almost picture her wearing it as she bustled about a kitchen not unlike my mother's or grandmother's, the smell of roasting turkey and mince pies heavy in the air. Perhaps there was a small child from time to time tugging on these same apron strings, needing a bit of attention too.
Then I could see her proudly presenting a holiday feast to her eagerly awaiting family like in the famous Norman Rockwell painting. (Didn't that lady wear her apron too?)
Wait. What's this? It was a stain, barely noticeable amongst the Christmas trees. I decided I liked it. It gave the apron character. Whether it was tea or coffee or gravy — whatever — it proved that this apron wasn't "for fancy." It had been used. I loved it all the more at that moment.
As I continued to iron, I marveled at the copious pocket someone had added to the right front of this apron.
"Aha," I thought to myself, "I do believe this was made by (or at least designed by) a grown woman, and not a girl."
Who else but a busy wife and/or mother would appreciate and understand a need for that pocket? From experience I knew all the reasons it was there, and I smiled to myself.
Will I wear my vintage Christmas apron this year? You bet I will; and for all the Christmases to come it will be a part of the celebration. After all, that was what it was made for so long ago and by an unknown hand.
Diana D. Schutz lives in Catlin.