Stitching Holiday Traditions with Florence Taylor

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Episode Summary

Stitching Holiday Traditions is a special series of the Stitch Please podcast. These are first-person narratives from women in the Black Women Stitch community. They talk about how the December holidays bring about their creative spirit. Learn how their sewing and making enhances their celebrations. In this special, Florence serves a generous slice of Christmas, transporting listeners back in time to her childhood anticipation of Christmas in her Haitian American household and explaining how her early years shape her current holiday practices. Florence reflects on her favorite recent Christmas memories and the shaping of new memories for her three children. She celebrates Christmas with traditional and French holiday music and smells coming from the kitchen and embraces the spirit of giving in her broader community, offering a little touch of family to those in need. And of course, she sews matching outfits for the entire family. Enjoy this amazing episode where Florence shares her insights about the true meaning of Christmas and how we can create lasting memories in our own homes.

Episode Notes

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[00:00:00] Lisa Woolfork: The stitch, please podcast will be taking a winter hiatus until January, but in the meantime, we will not leave you hanging. We've got some beautiful new episodes coming up just in time for the holidays. The. The new series stitching holiday traditions are first person narratives for members of the black women's stitch community.
[00:00:23] Lisa Woolfork: These are first person special dispatch stories from women in the black women's stitch sewing community. Who are graciously sharing the stories of their family traditions with us. Each of them has a beautiful and unique story that we think you'll appreciate learning about as they talk about the ways that they're sewing crafty and creative lives intersect with the ways that they celebrate the holidays.
[00:00:51] Lisa Woolfork: So prepare yourself to have a really great time. As we wrap up 2021
[00:00:57] Florence Taylor: happy holiday friends. If you're [00:01:00] listening to. I can't believe that you're listening to and I'm.
[00:01:16] Florence Taylor: To everyone that is partaking in this beautiful journey of crafting, sewing, and creating. So what I'm gonna give you is a slice of Christmas. Picture this 1970 something, Brooklyn, New York first generation American me living in a loud loving rambunctious. Exciting demonstrative, Haitian household. My father has most beautiful tenor slash Barton voice.
[00:01:53] Florence Taylor: We would listen to Tito Rossi singing, pretty Papa, Noel being Crosby and [00:02:00] country music, Christmas carols, and French Christmas carols were all rage in my house.
[00:02:11] Florence Taylor: Merry Christmas, the parents were loving and thoughtful, amazing, hard working individuals. And they gifted us every single day with their smiles, with their music, with their heart. Christmas for them was not about what we wanted, but what we needed such as. Heavy and beautiful winter coats, boots, snow, um, snow pants, um, mittens socks, new dresses, and such now to adolescents children's and teens.
[00:02:54] Florence Taylor: This was not exciting at all, but now I, as a 48 [00:03:00] year old. Oh, please. Somebody buy me a nice Downy woo coat. And please, please get some awesome socks. I beg you, which was not the household, but was always full of love. Laughter and music. As I said, have taken that tradition into my own home. Now I. At first, give my children the illusion of Santa.
[00:03:28] Florence Taylor: I wanna let them have that experience that most of their peers had. Um, the story, the, um, the suspense of disbelief, how is when human being able to circumvent the globe and get to everyone's home, the toys and all the wishes that they wanted in one freaking night, IM. I did allow them that fantasy of Santa for a while.
[00:03:53] Florence Taylor: And then one day I realized that my children were giving things to the [00:04:00] mm-hmm unacceptable. I wanted my children to understand that they have a responsibility to our local community, to. Have the opportunity to provide amazing imprints of who they were as individuals and their character. I have told them, and my husband has told them that.
[00:04:22] Florence Taylor: Every single day is Christmas for you guys. We celebrate, we honor you. So let's be, let's think about the things that fill you up. So Christmas for them are about those little, that one big thing that speaks to who they are as individuals that it, I have, um, twin girls who are 13 and I have a son who's 15.
[00:04:50] Florence Taylor: They all this year have asked for things that speak to who they are as humans and how they [00:05:00] want to be seen out in this world and what they wanna create and what they wanna do. And that's what Christmas means to us. We provide them a big gift or multiple small. That speak to who they are and what they're trying to craft and curate for themselves for that new year, whether it's instruments, musical lessons, um, acting, voice lessons, et cetera, et cetera, because these are the things that feed their soul.
[00:05:28] Florence Taylor: And that's what we're interested in Christmas for us, whether it is the food that we partake in, the gifts that we share are about feeding our children and the people that we love, their souls, their spirits, and their bodies.
[00:05:52] Florence Taylor: I am living in a different state from my parents and can be very lonely at times, not having [00:06:00] both grandparents so close by and as such, we decided a few years ago to adopt grandparents at our local nursing home CLE. A lot of, some of these senior citizens didn't have family that came to visit them as regularly.
[00:06:16] Florence Taylor: So what that means is. We contact that, um, nursing home assisted living senior care home, and someone that is in their that doesn't have regular scheduled family that seems down that would appreciate having a family, send them some things, whether it was a gift, um, calling or card. Present or monthly or bimonthly visits.
[00:06:47] Florence Taylor: Imagine for my kids, how every year we pick a different person that we share our lives with. And as such, we do so Christmas time comes around and we think about that [00:07:00] senior citizen that share our holiday with what are we gonna do? How are we gonna show them that we care? Well, we take that same premise with the people that are in our lives, where there's family, friends, et cetera, Christmas for us, whether it is the food that we partake in.
[00:07:17] Florence Taylor: The gifts that we share are about feeding our children and the people that we love, their souls, their spirits, and their bodies.
[00:07:36] Lisa Woolfork: You're listening to this stitch please podcast and the special edition episodes about stitching holiday traditions. We'll return to the story after this break.
[00:07:53] Lisa Woolfork: The black women's stitch 2020 wall calendar is bigger and blacker than ever. Not only is the calendar about [00:08:00] 15% larger than last year's calendar. It still remains jam packed with so much wonderful history about black women's history, selling history and activist history. There's also a wonderful new feature.
[00:08:13] Lisa Woolfork: In this year's version, and that is the quarterly pattern release. At the beginning of every quarter, you'll find original images from black women artists. The patterns are available as a PDF download, allowing you to resize them to the needs of your project. Order your copy of the black women's stitch 2022 wall calendar at black women's stitch dot big cartel.com.
[00:08:39] Lisa Woolfork: And we will help you get your stitch together. And now we'll return to stitching holiday traditions.
[00:08:47] Florence Taylor: Thanks for listening for. And how I celebrate Christmas is with music. We sing. We listen, we share Christmas also are the [00:09:00] sounds and smells of delicious cooking and baking by sounds. I am talking about the stomping in the beating of the dough, because if I am not making Haitian patties for Christmas morning, my kids want no part of.
[00:09:16] Florence Taylor: If there is no bread to ha to be had with the soup, please, I might as well just leave this house as well as the cookie making. Oh, and the dancing sounds of sprinkles, hitting that sugar dough and. Cookie press and everything that goes along with it. And then the site lights cards, homemade cards. We cut out snowflakes and we decorate them.
[00:09:44] Florence Taylor: We decorate Christmas how people celebrate them in different countries and try to find postcards or online images and put them all over the house. We want our house to. Be filled with warmth and creativity. We [00:10:00] want the spirit of Christmas to be about being altruistic and seeing that its more than presence.
[00:10:08] Florence Taylor: Its about community, its about building and it is about sustaining family and tradition. Guess what it's always been for me to the point that I make them, um, leave out their shoes because in Haiti, there's, um, tradition, you leave out your shoes from Papa Noel, which is father Christmas, Papa, Noel. And he will come and he will put money in your shoe.
[00:10:33] Florence Taylor: Not a lot because you know, Nobody's stricken off like that. There are no red bottoms at the, at the front door that I'm dropping a hundred, but I kids that is
[00:10:49] Florence Taylor: additionally. We always open a gift Christmas Eve, um, as a family. And that is typically [00:11:00] a family gift. Something that we all are going share, whether it is a board game, because I love board games or, um, a trip that we have planned or cooking lessons, something that we can all do as a family together. And then everybody goes to sleep.
[00:11:16] Florence Taylor: And I am toiling most of all the night, making sure that the homemade Haitian hot chocolate is, um, going to be ready for the kids to have in the morning. And I will definitely make sure to send Lisa that recipe so that you all can have that experience of Christmas, because let me tell you. The Haitian hot chocolate is something to be.
[00:11:41] Florence Taylor: Yeah. It's something to call home about. It's homemade chocolate bark and it is not sweet. Like how you think regular chocolate might be and you shave it and you steep it in this milk or cream Carnation with star Aneth and clothes and cinnamon and this such, and it's just magnificent and it's thick.[00:12:00]
[00:12:00] Florence Taylor: It's like, Sludge. Um, but it's delicious and you have it with patient, um, bread that I freshly bake my kids. Wake up. We go to mass
[00:12:17] Florence Taylor: in beautiful, shiny homemade. Outfits. Oh yes. Freshly sewn. Gorgeous. We look like the family that you know, is the family colors are matching and coordinated to the teas hair and all shiny and all pretty, uh, baby hairs, all out sun, fresh haircut looking fly. We are we're that family. Oh yes. there we go to.
[00:12:49] Florence Taylor: And then we, um, if we're not visiting any of our in-laws and we're home, we make sure we call everyone and tell 'em that we love them and that we miss them. [00:13:00] And we hope our gifts. And we, and talk about that and we have. Lunch and lunch is the thing that I've typically prepped and prepped and prepped for days.
[00:13:12] Florence Taylor: And everybody talks about how amazing it is and working contribution was, and some of their favorite dishes, then we opened more gifts. Then we watched Christmas movies. I always save my favorite Christmas movies for Christmas day. We do watch, um, all a bunch of holiday movies, but on Christmas day, it's always gonna be miracle on 34th street.
[00:13:37] Florence Taylor: And it's a wonderful life. And then I started incorporating screws with bill Murray. Cause I love that and makes me laugh. Everybody's in and outta our house. Um, they're taking some of the big goods that I've made. They're dropping off some stuff and it's just full of, so for me and [00:14:00] my. Christmas is about the sight sounds and smells.
[00:14:05] Florence Taylor: The sounds of laughter and music, the sight of color and imagination and the smells of how show my love to baking nourish, nourish them. So for anyone that's listening,
[00:14:28] Florence Taylor: This life lessen away with you. When you wanna celebrate the holiday, let it be the kind of celebration that gives your family and yourself. Heart memories that on your darkest days. You can look back on that day and that experience and know that you gave the very best of yourself, that you were selfless and caring, and loving and mindful to those that you wanted to have seated at your [00:15:00] table.
[00:15:00] Florence Taylor: And those that Areed planted in your hearts, happy holidays, friends, and to you many, many more and blessings.
[00:15:29] Florence Taylor: Merry Christmas,
[00:15:39] Florence Taylor: Merry Christmas.
[00:15:44] Lisa Woolfork: You've been listening to stitching holiday traditions, a special podcast episode of the stitch please podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Come back next time and we'll help you get your stitch together.[00:16:00]
[00:16:14] Florence Taylor: Merry Christmas. That is how he done. We saw your.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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