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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Photo courtesy of Jaime ShanksPhoto courtesy of Jim Squires

GMC sends December babies home in handmade stockings (Slideshow 2)

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Nearly every kid has their own stocking to hang up for Christmas morning in the hope that Santa will stuff it with goodies, and for children born in December at Glendive Medical Center, they get their own personal Christmas stocking right out of the gate, with the first thing ever stuffed in it being themselves.

For as long as anyone can seem to remember, GMC has given out custom handmade Christmas stockings to every baby born at the hospital in December “or anytime after Thanksgiving,” noted LPN Wendy Keller, who has worked at GMC for 21 years  and added the tradition predates her starting work at the hospital. While the background behind giving stockings to babies born in December is fuzzy, for the past 15 years one woman has been responsible for creating the stockings, GMC volunteer Creuza Squires.

“It’s been going on for a long time,” Squires said. “Who has that history, I really don’t know.”

When Squires took over the tradition 15 years ago, she said she was drawn to do it because it fit with her personal passions in life.

“My big passions in life are sewing and gardening, so ...,” Squires said. “Because I quilt and I love to do that kind of thing I thought it would fit my needs and desires to do something creative.”

Each stocking she makes with a decorative Christmas motif is designed to be large enough to carry the infant home in.

“It’s big enough so that the baby can at least get their feet and up to their waist into it so they can go home in it,” she said.

The hospital gives Squires an estimate each year of how many babies they expect to be born during the holiday season. This year she made 10 stockings, which she noted is fairly average, but she has had to make far more in the past.

“One year, I had to make 20 because I had two sets of twins,” Squires said, noting that if she ever makes more stockings than are actually needed, the hospital will just hold onto them until the next Christmas season.

Squires also changed the tradition up a bit when she took over to make the stockings a more permanent keepsake for the kids that get them. She said prior to her taking over, the stockings were made of felt, a material she noted does not hold up or age very well.

“Before, when it was made with felt, people just threw them away,” Squires said.

So Squires turned to quilted material, with each stocking carefully hand-quilted using high quality quilted fabric, which has turned the stockings into mementos that can be kept by the child throughout their childhood.

Keller knows a little something about the longevity of Squires’ quilted stockings. Her son was born in December 14 years ago, the second year that Squires made the stockings. The stocking she brought her son home in 14 years ago is still his Christmas stocking and has brought him a little bit of extra Christmas cheer every year since.

“So every year, he would actually try to crawl into it, which I think he did until he was seven,” Keller said. “And he still wants it filled every year.”

Keller added that she “loved it” when she got the stocking to take her son home in, adding that she sees the same joy on the face of every parent who has the luck to have their child born at GMC during the holiday season.

“(Parents) love ‘em. They think they’re the coolest thing ever,” Keller said.

Squires said she has had lots of parents come up to her over the years and thank her for the stockings, further noting she has even had people express some stocking envy to her.

“They’ll say ‘Oh, I wish I was having a baby in December,’” she said.

Squires said she has no plans to stop making the stockings anytime soon, saying “I’ll keep going until I can’t find the fabric anymore,” because for every newborn baby she sees carried out of GMC in one of her stockings, it brings warmth to her heart and that sense of giving back that means so much to so many people this time of the year.

“I just smile and say, ‘Oh, good little baby,’’’ Squires said. “They’ll never know (who made the stocking), but when you can give of yourself something you’re good at, that’s a good thing.”



Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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