Grandma's Stitchery Picture
Annie's Micro-Museum

How a stitchery picture inspired my bedtime stories

It hung on the wall next to my bed when I was a little girl. It was right at my eye level even if I was laying down with my head on my pillow. This way I could see everything right up close. I loved to run my fingers over all the raised areas my Grandma had stitched over. Before bed every night I’d recite who I imagined everyone in the picture was to my Mom or Dad. Like the prayers we’d say each night, I had the names I’d given each individual and the stories I’d imagined about them memorized.

I came across tonight’s inspiration for this story in my attic. It’s a picture my Grandma K stitched and framed for me. The frame is coming apart now, but the picture itself is still as bright and cheerful as I remember it.

Grandma's Stitchery Picture_Attic

I can’t remember what year my Grandma gave me this picture, but I do remember her doing a couple others like it. It was probably the early 1990s when she made this. I believe my Aunt and Uncle had one that was similar. They hung theirs over a roll top desk in their family room for years. I believe it was slightly different though. I loved that mine was a one-of-a-kind!

It might seem like an odd gift to give a little girl. But for me it was perfect! I loved to make up stories and use my imagination while looking at it. I’d tell my parents who everyone was and what they were up too. Usually it was our family members and closest neighbors.

Here’s a close up:

Grandma's Stitchery Picture
Grandma’s Stitchery Picture

I recently found a cool picture editing tool on my phone that lets you magnify areas of a photo. I thought I’d use that feature to point out the various details that inspired my bedtime stories. Here it goes!

Picking my house on the hill

There were four houses on top of the hill. I could only magnify three, but you get the idea. I loved the smoke coming out of the chimneys. They looked so cozy. I used to pick which house I wanted to live in on any given night and am guessing being closest to the big tree and seashore was the most common choice. I think I gave my sisters and cousin Mel each a house next door.

Grandma's Stitchery Picture_Houses on hill
Houses on hill

Choosing my flavor of ice cream

Below that was the ice cream shop! Who wouldn’t want to live close to one of those? I loved imagining having a cone like the one pictured on the side of the building. Running my fingers over the picture I could pick out what flavor I wanted.

Grandma's Stitchery Picture_Ice Cream Shop
Ice Cream Shop

The family of four, next door

Now the family of four was always my neighbors right next door to the right of us. I was really close friends with the girl named Megan. She had a younger brother, so the picture was perfect to imagine it was them standing there. Her Dad was a mailman and loved to sing. I’d hear him singing next door to us all the time. He was always so cheerful. Megan and I’d put on shows together in our garage or in our basement and call her folks over to watch along with my family. They loved seeing us perform and use our imaginations.

Grandma's Stitchery Picture_Family of Four
Family of Four

I remember her having an old pair of white tap shoes that she let me borrow once. I danced to a Bette Midler song on our garage floor wearing those. I had absolutely no idea how to tap but my neighbors watched me jump around, stomping and scraping my feet as they sat in our driveway on folding chairs we had set out. When we were done with our show, we pushed the garage button to close it like it was our curtain.

Having as much watermelon as you could eat

I love how this picture involved my senses. The two kids eating watermelon on the wall always looked like they were in heaven! How fun to sit and have as much watermelon as you could handle. I believe I changed up who these two were, but sometimes I know I made it two of my cousins. The girl cousin was closest to me in age than any of my other cousins. We used to write letters to each other all the time. She had a younger brother. I remember eating watermelon with both of them at my Grandma’s in her backyard. So again, in my imagination this scenario fit the picture perfectly!

Grandma's Stitchery Picture_Two kids eating watermelon
Two kids eating watermelon

There’s also a watermelon cart nearby in the picture. I loved how it had a sign that told you how much you could buy one for in cents. I guess I thought these kids were perhaps just sneaking some. Maybe it was because I believed the grey haired lady handing out the fruit was my Grandma K. and probably owned the watermelons. She’d let them eat as much as they wanted.

The dog by the horse, was mine of course

I had to name the dog in the picture Skipper, like my Dog of course. I loved that this dog had no leash and was free to roam by the birds and horses. My dog Skipper was not a dog that walked well on a leash, and he barked furiously at the door even if he knew who it was. He was about six when we got him from a couple of my cousins. They were moving to Scotland and couldn’t take him with them. When my folks had said we were getting a dog, I thought it would be more like the one in this picture: cute, kind, and loving. Skipper was a great dog, but not very kind most of the time. I think imagining him in this world made me a bit happier to think about what he could have been like.

Grandma's Stitchery Picture_Dog by horse
Dog by horse

The two matching girls were my sister and me, always

I loved the two little girls with matching dresses. I always made that me and my sister Sarah, who is two years older than me. We shared a room together, and although we never had matching clothes that I can remember we did have matching bed spreads. First, they were red and white checked with a big brown furry teddy bear sewn onto it. My other Grandma had made these for us for Christmas one year. The teddy bears each had glass eyes, except mine was missing one. Sarah reminded me of this whenever the blankets got washed or pulled off of the beds so we’d know whose was whose. Mine was also more faded because I had the bed by the window.

Grandma's Stitchery Picture_Sisters and Feeding Birds
Sisters and Feeding Birds

When we got a little older Grandma bought us new bedspreads that also matched, but they were white with pastel blue and pink accents, and not handmade. She did however make us a curtain that matched the bedspreads that were blue and had a white lace trim. It hung right above my bed, and right above this picture.

I believe I made the older girl feeding the birds my oldest sister Jenny. That seemed to make sense most nights. She had the room across the hall to herself and I could talk about her getting to do things that me and Sarah couldn’t yet do. Perhaps it was something like staying up later? I’m sure by the time I was carrying on about who everyone was and what they were doing my parents were like… “okay, lets wrap this up honey.”

Okay, just two more little stories to go. I promise.

What was in the basket? and the thought of having a horse!

I don’t recall who I often made the biker or person riding in the horse carriage, but I do know I loved the idea of riding in one of them! I loved how the lady on the bike was pulling a cart full of something yummy to sell. She had a cool basket on front even. What was inside? I also loved horses and the idea of being in a time where there were no cars. My Great Grandma Rose, who I wrote about last post in Sunday Brunch with Rose was born in 1898. Thinking that this scene was representing something she could relate to was pretty neat. She was still alive when I got this picture and in fact lived until just after I graduated high school. So, when I looked at this picture I’m sure I imagined it being a time like when she grew up.

last, but not least…

The people talking were my folks, while my Grandpa worked in the produce stand

At this point, if I was still talking and making up stories my parents were probably telling me it was really time now to finish up and get to bed. But I just had to add them in the story too so I always picked the couple shopping and talking by the produce stand as my parents.

They were probably talking to one of my uncles, more then likely my Uncle Len who I wrote about that was the pilot that took me flying. Here’s that story if you’re curious: The day I co-piloted and flew a plane at three years old.

I made the person selling the produce my Grandpa that I hardly knew. He had passed away years before I had this picture. I believe I put him in the story because it was my Grandma K, his wife, who sewed the picture. I must have wanted to imagine it was him there because that would have made her happy to see him. I wrote about the couple of memories I have of my Grandpa K in My first memory if you missed it. I liked imagining this picture was like a little heaven and everyone was happy and content.

Turning the nightlight on now

My parents must have had so much patience with me while I told my stories while looking at this picture. I had so many stories to tell! I believe it helped me learn to create stories and develop my imagination and memory too. I would add on to things, or change them up slightly like this ongoing, old-time, soap opera without the drama. And although I grew up in the Midwest and my home town of Madison, Wisconsin looked nothing like this, I made it something I could relate to. I found so many things I loved and wanted to be a part of. Like a little escape I could dash into for a few minutes, I fell asleep dreaming with this picture as one of the last things I saw each night. It’s colorful scene, a happy place, just waiting for me to visit again tomorrow.

What was your favorite bedtime story or routine as a child?
I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below.

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