My father had a pair of pants that he only wore on Christmas. For, like, over 25 years. The pants were bright red and green plaid polyester. These pants are legendary in our family. For our family, these pants signified Christmas.

Betting on black Ilene

After my dad died in September 2020, I put the pants in one of my dresser drawers. I had given away the majority of his clothes, but I could not part with the pants (or his wool Marine hat). The pants sat in my drawer for over a year.

Christmas 2021 rolled around, and I had a brainstorm. Why not make heart ornaments for all dad’s grandchildren (and me, of course)? How hard can it be?

I know how to hand-sew. Cut out two heart shapes from the leg of the pants, pin and sew the edges, add a thingy to hook it on a Christmas tree and bam!

A wonderful, sentimental reminder of dad every Christmas. What a great keepsake!

So I got the pants out of my drawer. I held them for a minute, silently asking forgiveness for taking scissors to them. Then I cut. Once I had them pinned, I started to hand-sew them.

It had been probably 10 years since I had hand-sewn anything. In the excitement of my fabulous idea, I forgot that you need good eyesight to hand-sew stuff.

Ten years ago, my eyesight was fine. Now? Not so much. Holding the hearts up to my nose, I hand-stitched all the edges and then stuffed the finished product with batting. I finished sewing and moved the heart away from my face so I could admire it.

Alas. The heart ornament looked more like a liver or a kidney, depending on the angle. Very little resemblance to a heart at all. So I put it aside and cut out two other heart pieces, being careful to make them large and more defined.

I brought the material up to my nose again and sewed. Then I looked at it. I didn’t think it was possible to look any worse than the first heart, but I was wrong. This one looked like a cross between South America and the Rock of Gibraltar.

I was becoming a little discouraged. And worried. My dad was a short man, therefore his pant legs were not long. The availability of fabric was becoming a concern.

I decided to use my sewing machine. Keep in mind that I had not used the sewing machine for ten years or so. It took my twenty minutes to remember how to thread the thing (I ended up googling it).

I’ll spare you the gory details but allow me to say that this method was 1,000 times worse than hand sewing. If it had not been so cold outside, I would have thrown the stupid sewing machine in the road.

I briefly considered switching to a star. Nightmarish visions of human organs, geography, and unusual fruits from around the world danced through my head. Then I thought, “Ah. A stocking!”

So I cut out two pieces of my rapidly dwindling supply of fabric in the shape of a Christmas stocking. I once again pinned and sewed.

This ornament turned out looking like a hockey stick. I tried again. The next attempt resembled an air cast.

After a sleepless night or two, I decided to abandon the idea. I still could not bring myself to throw these shredded-up pants away, despite the fact that one leg looked like plaid hot pants and the other looked like something a victim of a shipwreck would wear.

On Christmas Day I told our kids about my attempts to make ornaments out of the pants.

Surprisingly, they were a little grossed out at the thought of hanging part of their grandfather’s pants on their trees.

Our youngest son Donnie put on what was left of the pants and wore them while we had dinner. Bear in mind that one of his legs was bare and the other consisted of tattered plaid fabric hanging down to his knees. I have a picture of this delightful holiday sight.

So much for sentimentality. Dad, I promise I’m not touching the wool Marines hat.

Ilene Black has been a resident of Ewing for most of her life and lives across the street from her childhood home. She and her husband, George, have two sons, Georgie and Donnie.

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