There once was a twelve year old girl who was required to find an activity club in Junior High school. She had some rather specific criteria about what sorts of activities she would join. She had zero interest in anything sports related because she had already demonstrated a decided lack of skill in that area. She didn't really want to join any of the clubs the popular girls joined either because they weren't particularly nice to her.
The girl looked through the list and her eyes fell on the knitting club. Her interest was piqued. Her grandmother could knit and crochet. Her mother could knit. Over her life the girl had enjoyed lots of different items her mother and grandmother had each knit for her. She thought it would be nice to be able to make her own items too. She asked her mother for the required materials to take to school and was presented with a skein of red yarn and a set of blue needles.
On the first day of the club the instructor patiently showed the girls how to cast on, how to do a simple knit stitch, and how to add yarn when a skein ran out. Everyone got to work. Some took to it quickly and others needed more help but everyone was encouraged and soon producing several rows of stitches. The girl enjoyed watching her rows add up and spread across her lap as the rippled and ridged surface of the red scarf she was knitting grew.
After a few weeks the scarf was several feet long and ready to be finished. The instructor showed the girl how to cast off and add fringe. The girl noted she had a big mistake in the middle of the scarf. The instructor said it was only a small one and not anything that would make the scarf unravel. She said the girl should wear her new scarf proudly because she had made it herself.
The girl took the advice and brought the scarf home to show her mother and grandmother who both admired the finished product. It made the girl smile to herself every time she wore it because of what the instructor said and the praise her family gave her. She liked it much better than the store bought scarf she had. She wore it even when it wasn't cold.
Soon it would be Christmas and the girl wanted to give her brother something but she had no money. Even if she had money there wasn't really any place nearby which she could get to secretly to keep any shopping a surprise. She thought long and hard about what to give her brother and had no ideas. Then an early snow came. As her brother was getting all suited up to go play in the snow it became evident he had no scarf. The girl knew what she could give her brother. She had two scarves and he had none. She could give him the one she didn't use....except that one was kind of ratty. A ratty old scarf would not be a very nice present. That meant she'd be giving him the new red scarf she had made. For a minute she was a little disappointed about that but she brightened when she realized she knew how to knit so she could make herself another one after Christmas since there wasn't really time to do it before the holiday. She wrapped up the scarf, put her brother's name on it and put it under the tree. she felt good knowing she'd be giving him something he really needed and that she had made by herself.
On Christmas morning she and her brother had opened all the presents from their mother and then it was time for the girl to give her gifts. Her brother opened the box with the scarf in it and smiled as he wrapped it around his neck. Her mother welled up and wiped a tear away. The girl couldn't understand why her mother was crying but the hug from her mom with the comment, "Now that's the spirit of Christmas," soon explained it. The girl felt a warmth in her heart.
Many years later, the girl is a grown woman with three children of her own. She is struggling to get excited about the holidays because it all seems like more trouble than it's worth sometimes with expectations and demands placed upon her and less time than ever. She sits at her desk waiting for the next set of demands to be foisted upon her. A four year old boy bounds giggling into the waiting room of the office where the woman works. From around his neck a red scarf trails with the telltale ripples and ridges of a hand knit texture.
I smile, I remember, I feel the spirit of a Christmas long past alight on a weary soul.