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Every year I do it — embark on somewhat misguided craft projects within days of Christmas. This often means decorative felt Christmas stockings to hang  on the mantle. It started with my own kids years ago.  Gill’s is now so stained with coffee and the decorations ripped and falling off that she demands a new one but, being a traditionalist, I refuse. Those coffee stains and its ratty appearance have meaning…mostly that she’s hard on Christmas and OD’d on coffee, but nonetheless, it reminds us of good times past.

More recently, I’ve made stockings for dear friends, new significant others and, yes, even dogs. As I write this , there are no fewer than five dog stockings under the tree. Only one of the dogs is actually still with us –The Pig. I put the other stockings out each year to remind us of the wonderful creatures who shared our lives over the years. (Well, if Poochie’s and Wilbur’s ashes and a tiny canary’s ceramic footprint grace the coffee table, what did you expect?”)

This year’s stockings were made for a cherished old dog that lived across the street. Jewel, about whom I’ve written several times, had to be put down this past week.Not what you want just before Christmas. Her breathing was labored and her heart was racing, the end signs of congestive heart failure.  Just as I did for Poochie three years ago, her family asked the vet to come to their home to have her put down where she felt loved, protected, and happy. Although I was loathe to witness the loss of another beloved dog, I went to wish her well on her journey. As with Poochie, it was a peaceful, incredibly sad, yet dignified end. We all cried over the loss. The vet thanked Jewel’s human parents for having the courage to put her down before she suffered and died a horrible death from drowning in the fluid collecting around her heart and lungs. They had done the right thing…but it still hurt. We were still devastated. We had our own small ‘wake’ for her, looking at pictures on the computer of her long and happy life, laughing about the good times, and yes, drinking a large glass of wine to her.

Don’t worry, dear readers, after this side (and sad) story, I am getting to my point. I had helped Jewel’s human sister make a stocking for Jewel last year. The family has, within the past few months, adopted a new puppy so that, when the inevitable happened, they would not be dog-less. A dog-less home is, for those of us who know, quiet and suffers from the lack of laughter, fun, love, and yes, chaos a dog brings. And so Chocky (short for Chocolate, she being a chocolate-black lab mix) came to the neighborhood. She already knows me and accepts that I, as an honorary member of their family, will be her ‘grandma’. It was obvious that she needed a Christmas stocking. And so I began with mere days until Christmas.

I can’t draw my way out of a paper bag but I have a certain ability to cut felt Santas, Christmas trees, whimsical but amazingly accurate likenesses of dogs, and items that individualize the stocking for its owner. A pile of sticks lies next to the felt Chocky…since she loves nothing better than a good stick to chew.

Working at the kitchen table, I soon had glue puddles everywhere — on the table , on my fingers, on my sleeves, but never enough to glue the pieces of felt to the stocking.The bits stuck remarkably well to my fingers but then wouldn’t come off! Santa’s elves will not be issuing me an invitation for employment in their workshop anytime soon. But it is finished! News from the grapevine has it that Chocky loves it.

Gill will post her final blog of 2015 tomorrow and with that, we both wish all of our loyal readers (and even the hit-and-run ones!) a Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday spent with loved ones. We are taking a week off from the blog (please, the moans and boos are deafening) but will return full of more tales and chuckles on January 4.

Happy Holidays and may your glass of wine never be empty!