Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What do the Fairmont and my Christmas Stocking Have in Common?

I toured the Fairmont with San Francisco Walking Tours and enjoyed learning the history of this hotel. Sitting atop Nob Hill, the Fairmont has wonderful views of both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. Barely finished, the Fairmont burned during the 1906 earthquake but reopened a year later to become a city hub.

Golden Gate and Bay bridges from Fairmont Hotel
Golden Gate and Bay Bridges from Fairmont

The United Nations formed here in 1945; its charter was drafted in the Garden Room. A few years later Dorothy Draper remodelled the hotel using flamboyant colors and luxury fabrics. Her Modern Baroque style was "the opposite of minimalism."

Fairmont Hotel lobby
Fairmont lobby 

The Carousel Bar once incorporated a working antique one. That is gone but delightful murals still decorate the walls.

Carousel Bar, Fairmont Hotel
Murals of circus performers decorate the Fairmont's Carousel Bar

Like Dior's New Look, these exotic fabrics and colors celebrated the end of the war and rationing! After the tour I realized my family's Christmas stockings came from this same era. Bright red velveteen with green apple taffeta lining. Beading, sequins, and bells. More is more indeed.

Velveteen Christmas stocking with beads, sequins, jingle bells.
My Christmas stocking

A family friend made the first one. Then my mother {had to} sew others as the rest of us appeared. They always look merry and bright strung along the mantle. For years I never saw these stockings anywhere else. A family from my home state moved to town. Surprise. Their stockings are twins to ours. I wonder if the original pattern was in a local newspaper or magazine.

When it was time to make stockings for my children I wanted to update them somehow. Halley's comet appeared soon after my eldest so that was beaded on her stocking below. {It looks more like a paramecium.} Then I added a rocket for the many shuttle flights. Thus began began the Heavenly Additions.

Velveteen Christmas stocking with beads, sequins, jingle bells,.and Space events.
Daughter and SIL's Christmas stockings

The Voyager 2 flyby of Neptune is commemorated on one; the Ulysses boost past Jupiter on another. Neither SIL nor DIL had a stocking. His (above) highlights Discovery's spacewalk by astronaut Dale Gardner to retrieve the Westar VI satellite. Hers depicts the Rosetta landing on Comet 67P. That's the purple mass on the righthand stocking below... in case you can't tell. Over the years, my abilities have dropped off and it looks as odd as Halley's comet.  Or perhaps I can only bead planets, not comets. {I also cheated a bit; this is the year they married, not the year she was born.}

Velveteen Christmas stockings with beads, sequins, bells and Space events.
Christmas stockings celebrating space mission highlights: Ulysses, Voyager2, and Rosetta

DIL's still has a blank spot where I plan to add her wedding bouquet. I'm just a bit chicken about ruining the ribbons. Their names (covered in the photos) are written with beads and sequins across the white felt cuff.

With the arrival of grandchildren I'm busy making more. One should have been finished a year ago. Oops. The new velveteen is cardinal red rather than the former deep blue/red but the lining is still bright green. Although I drafted a paper pattern long ago, now I just use one sample as a guide.

Cutting Christmas stockings from velveteen
Cutting new Christmas stockings from velveteen

They all need a Christmas tree and then it's time to let loose: snowmen, reindeer, stars, butterflies, bells. Here are the events I'm considering.
  • For 2015: Discovery of Kepler-452b (possible Earth 2) by Kepler or New Horizons flyby of Pluto
  • For 2017: Total Solar eclipse or Cassini-Huygens satellite entering Saturn's atmosphere
Two yards each of the velveteen and lining will make six stockings. More than enough. I cut all six; they can lay flat at the bottom of the stocking box. The velveteen won't crease and I'll know where to find them... perhaps. {I have become a champion squirrel-er-away.}

Enjoy the day, Ann


Monica said...

What a wonderful family tradition! I love the way you built on what your mother started. The comet looks more like a raindrop to me, which is perfectly appropriate since they are mostly water!

LA Paylor said...

I've stayed at the Fairmont... I love the era and your stockings and the sentiment you write of. Love!

PaulaB quilts said...

Our first date ended a day with a drink in the Carousel Room. Seven weeks later we were engaged. I still have my own stocking and those of my two children. So many memories.

Mel Beach said...

What a lovely view and such beautiful Christmas stockings. What a wonderful Christmas tradition for your family. My grandmother knitted huge stockings for everyone in the family...they sure held a lot of Christmas goodies!!

Mego said...

LOVE THIS. My parents were married at the Fairmont in 1949. Every time we would visit SF when I was a kid we had tea there. Our stockings weren't JUST like yours but similar. My grandmother made them. Thanks for the memories!

Cathy said...

You certainly have an attention getting blog post title! And those have to be the gaudiest Christmas stockings I have ever seen. What a lot of fun and a wonderful family tradition. And you have also managed to make me feel guilty. I made my oldest two children Christmas stockings that they still hang here every year; however I never finished one for my youngest son who is now 33 or my son-in-law or dau.-in-law or my three grandkids. Every year I tell myself I need to get that done but every year I pull out the plain old dollar store stockings to stuff for everyone but my oldest two. So good for you for getting the job done!

Unknown said...

I grew up in Oakland and remember when they added the outside elevator to the Fairmont. We went over to the city once to ride it and my mom was scared out of her mind.

liniecat said...

What a delightful garden room!
And adorable Christmas Stockings too, love that they have been kept and appreciated : )

Robin said...

I enjoyed seeing all your stockings and I love how you commemorate something stellar on each one of them. My original stocking was purely 50's with a Frosty-like snowman in boots and lots of glitter. It's fun to look back. I was into needlepoint when my first two were born so that started a new tradition in our family.

Ann said...

Every family has traditions. I thought the kids would hate theirs but they've always bragged about them. Then they asked if I'd continue this for another generation. How could I say no. Yes, that comet looks like anything but a comet. Haha.

Ann said...

It's a beautiful hotel. I love the clothing from that era and our family stockings, too.

Ann said...

What a lovely memory of your first date, Paula. Christmas stockings are so personal, too, aren't they?

Ann said...

Nob Hill has a great view, doesn't it?
I bet you kids loved the knitted stockings. It's such fun to see different family collections.

Ann said...

Wow. That is a wonderful wedding location. And then they celebrated when you visited. How lovely.
I do think this pattern was published somewhere. Or else, velveteen was in style. The woman who made our first was my grandmother's age. I'd love to see yours sometime.

Ann said...

The Fairmont's decorative style really struck me and then I realized how our stockings were designed. It was just the style of those post-war years. Celebrating the end of world war with loud, luxe fabrics and finishes. Interesting to contrast that with Eichler homes that began building in the same years.
Haha. Our family has a similar story. The youngest two have stockings but no names on their cuffs.
Are your grandkids old enough to help? It could be a fun memory. And yes, right now I'm wondering exactly how many grandchildren I've committed to by starting this for the next generation. Auggghh!

Ann said...

That's a great memory. I've ridden outside elevators (not at the Fairmont) and I'm with your mom.

Ann said...

Thanks. We have long boxes, like flower boxes) to store them in. I guess we're lucky everyone keeps theirs. They are way over the top but look good together, like any collection of stockings.

Ann said...

Thanks, Robin. We enjoy reviewing the events and ornaments on each stocking every Christmas.
Needlepoint stockings are gorgeous. Even more work than these. Are you still making them for your family? It's interesting to see how styles come and go, isn't it? From glittery Frostys to elegant needlepoint.

Kaja said...

Great stockings - I really like the idea of having emblems relevant to specific years on them. Also love those circus murals - you do go to some interesting places.

Janie said...

Fun sightseeing!
And you're getting into the Christmas Spirit!

Mary Marcotte said...

You are in the Christmas Spirit! Love your stockings. Your mantel must be a riot of color and memories.

I'm like Cathy, except that I've now fallen so far behind on the stockings that I've just given up. I've hidden the ones I do have in the cedar chest for the kids to find when I'm gone. lol My boys aren't very sentimental and their wives hate "clutter" so they will probably go into a donation box anyway. Most of our traditions have to do with food, storytelling, and laughter. (Notice those don't take any space.)

Ann said...

I got lucky putting an event related to the birth year on the first stocking. They make them very unique.
We’ve been traveling frequently. I do like to walk around and sightsee but I’m not much on nightlife.

Ann said...


Ann said...

Well storytelling and laughter are the best. Aren’t we fortunate to have families with those traditions.