Artwork by Linda Bloom
We are thrilled to have EllynAnne Geisel here with us today to share a bit about the origin of National Tie One on Day, a day dedicated to giving thanks and lending a hand to people who are in need of seasonal cheer.
Hi EllynAnne! Please introduce yourself and share a bit of background about your fascination with aprons.
In 1999, my youngest child went off to college and his leaving was the signal that my 24 year career as a full-time homemaker and mother was over. For my next-stage career, I decided to become a writer. I selected the apron as the subject of that first piece because it was the symbol of what I’d done with a chunk of my life. I had no idea where my quirky apron-interest would go, only that the journey brought into my life unexpected joy. Had my apron journey been a film, it would qualify as a documentary, wherein I followed the subject matter, uncertain where it was headed nor when the journey would end. Twelve years since I began, and I’ve never tired of aprons, their stories, nor the storytellers, because each is precious and unique.
It must feel so rewarding to celebrate a holiday that is “win/win.”
Here’s the story behind creating NTOOD: Over the years, I’d noticed Thanksgiving talked about in terms more commonly associated with stress than joy. Remembering my mother’s absolute love of Thanksgiving as a day more than anything else of sharing and gratefulness, I embarked on a personal campaign to put the “give” back into Thanksgiving.
So seven years ago on the day before Thanksgiving, I wrapped a pie within an apron and wrote a sympathy note; then I tied on a pretty apron and with bundle in hand, walked out the door to a neighbor’s home where a deep sadness dwelled.
Awaiting an answer to the doorbell, I was slightly uncomfortable for the tardiness of my recognition of her circumstances and considered leaving my offering on the porch and bolting. I’m forever happy that I didn’t drop and run because the expression on my neighbor’s face was not one of recrimination; rather, she looked totally stunned.
Here, I said, gesturing she should take the apron-wrapped pie, I just want you to know that we’ve been thinking of you and your family. And with that, I stepped back and off the porch. Unable to resist, I turned and there she was, still in the doorway, holding the pie and smiling. And then she waved. My heart leapt.
I was unprepared for the joyfulness I felt from sharing a piece of our Thanksgiving bounty with someone in need of sustenance – physical, spiritual or emotional – a kind word or just the recognition of not being invisible. That such a small gesture provided such a win-win to me and my neighbor seemed extraordinarily simplistic, yet the sentiment of Thanksgiving is exactly that. Such a notion, I decided, begged to be shared.
Artwork by Sandy Sup
What inspired you to delve further into apron history?
As my collection of aprons grew, so did my curiosity into the apron’s history. I had no background as a textile scholar, so my quest for information took many paths, including asking the apron storytellers about the history of their aprons. This tact was priceless as well as thoroughly enjoyable. Living history, so to speak.
What is one piece of apron history that is significant to you?
During the four years that I toted a laundry basket of aprons with me wherever I went, what I learned is that everyone – EVERYONE – knows what an apron is and has a story to share. Until my apron journey, I hadn’t known that the apron is this consistent, historical linkage that ties us one generation to the other.
Were you pleasantly surprised by something that you learned?
Yes! A woman who’d “had it” would tuck a corner of her apron’s hemline into the pocket or waistband – a child or husband who ignored the sign, and stepped on her “last nerve,” never violated that signal again.
Monday was the designated wash day, and after loading the laundry into the basket, hauling it to the backyard and tying on a clothespin apron, the homemaker hung towels and sheets on the outside clotheslines and on the inner lines, personal items …thus shielding the neighbors from viewing her family’s underwear, her brassieres, slips, pajamas, etc. These outer lines were called Modesty Lines and shielded a family’s “dirty laundry” from snooping eyes. Our fences were low, so whatever we did in our backyards was not private.
How exactly does one go about creating a national holiday such as this?
Creating a day of recognition is a process through Chase’s Calendar of Events, an annual publication by McGraw Hill. An application is completed, submitted and reviewed. For all the wacky days of recognition in Chase’s, it’s still a serious endeavor. The calendar is utilized by media, so there’s a standard that needs to be upheld, and the event cannot benefit a private individual. NTOOD is in its seventh year as a Chase’s nationally recognized event.
Artwork by Ingrid Pomeroy
What are some unique ways that you’ve seen this holiday celebrated?
I’ve used NTOOD as a means of gathering women together who do not know one another, and within a social background, we meet, eat and package offerings…much as Stampington did last year!
I hear from many families that NTOOD is a new Thanksgiving tradition – in lieu of doing around the table and saying what they’re thankful for, they show gratefulness for their bounty by participating in NTOOD.
How do you celebrate this holiday?
I have a stable of recipients – all senior citizenry – and for them I package homemade soup and a sweet and for the women, a petite soap or hand lotion…just something extra and prettily wrapped. For all, I know that it’s a visit with me that’s most precious, so I schedule a date with each throughout November. Yes, the planning and time commitment is significant, but should I live to be their ages and alone, I can only hope there’s a kind soul out there who will drop in with a surprise and conversation.
Is this a one-woman operation or do you have a team working with you?
I am committed to National Tie One on Day and every year, I work at introducing it to a larger audience. Engaging sponsors is integral to the publicity of NTOOD, as providers of giveaways and assisting in the promotion. I do not personally profit from sponsorships, nor do sponsors pay to be a part of NTOOD. Putting the “give” back into Thanksgiving is an expression of the heart and, therefore, priceless.
Do you have a go-to baked good recipe for NTOOD?
Chocolate Tipped Shortbread Cookies
- cup butter or margarine, soft
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond flavoring
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar broken into pieces
- 2 teaspoons shortening
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour until blended. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough ¼” – ½” thick. Cut dough into rounds or shapes with biscuit/cookie cutters. Place half-inch or so apart on parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes / until cookies are lightly browned. Cool completely.
Melt chocolate and shortening in double boiler or in microwave. Stir to dissolve/smooth consistency.
Dip each cookie into melted chocolate until half-covered and place on a wire rack – waxed paper beneath racks will catch drips and make clean up easy. Optional: After dipping in chocolate, sprinkle with toasted, chopped almonds.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, EllynAnne! Aprons are one of our favorite things here at Stampington as well, and it’s so nice seeing them used in unique ways. Apronology is a semiannual publication that showcases gorgeous handmade aprons that are embellished with gingham ribbon, refashioned from a denim dress, and inspired by family traditions. Preview spreads from the current issue of Apronology and indulge in these timeless pieces of handmade art.