December 2021 – Ecole Holt Couture

Seasons Greetings to you all!

As we have just passed the winter solstice and experienced the shortest day – here where we are it was 8hr and 39min in duration – we now still ourselves for about a week until the daylight hours increase once more.

It is also the season for many celebrations. Ours is Christmas time, for others Hanukkah, Las Posadas, Bodhi Day, Mawlid, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, and perhaps more not mentioned here. We’re mindfully aware that the true meaning of the season has been watered down in our time, but hopefully we can still remain connected with the true spirit of the season in-spite of the commercial exploitation influence.

As a child, my remembrance of Christmas was filled with so much anticipation that the hours seemed impossibly long, and the excitement so intense that my stomach revolted so I couldn’t keep any food down! These days, thankfully, my stomach is calm, as I wait for the intense stillness and peace to find its way into my being.

Of course, the celebrations also include festive meals, and dressing up in our finest. Decorations around the home and strings of light, and the Christmas tree still make the season intensely enjoyable.

Years ago, my Mother, Elfriede [founder of EHC] would chase me and my Father out of the house with strict instructions not to return for several hours. We would get into the the station wagon and drive through the city delivering gifts to friends and family, and look at all the brightly lit houses in the neighbourhood.

When we returned, Mom had magically prepared everything for Christmas Eve. The wonderful smell of pine, and decorated tree appeared out of nowhere. The dinner table was set with proper Irish linen, her best china, crystal, and engraved silverware. The aroma of German sausages and sauerkraut wafted from the kitchen. Bowls of mandarins, nuts and chocolates set out in the living room, and I was not to even peak at the tree until after dinner! We ate dinner, sang carols, and opened gifts on Christmas eve, so my anticipation was relieved somewhat for the night, and I could sleep soundly into Christmas day!

My Father dressed in a full suit and tie, Mom and I in our specially made dresses for the occasion. Each year, she made it a point to create a new special outfit at Christmas. In those days, we didn’t have nearly as many items in our wardrobe as we do now. These dresses were intended and designed for just special occasions. We dressed up for Christmas eve, Christmas day Service, and then for Boxing Day dinner at my grandmother’s, and then we dressed up again for New Year’s eve, and New Year’s day.

I didn’t realize as a child, that not everyone had the same traditions and experience as I did. Naively, I was convinced that everyone dressed up in beautiful handmade garments for Christmas. It wasn’t until I was much older, that I appreciated the enormous effort that Mom put into making Christmas so special, and her extreme talent for not only couture, but cooking as well. In fact she was pretty good at almost anything she put her mind to. Always with the same attention to detail and effort towards excellence.

These days our Christmas celebrations are much more casual, but I still long to wear something special – but with some extra room to expand from dinner. Before Covid pandemic restrictions we still treated ourselves to events like the opera or symphony, dressed up of course in our finest gowns. But even if we could not have afforded these luxuries, we would still have made the season special by dressing up at home.

We both still have almost all the garments she created from those days. Who else keeps these things!?! With so much love, care and attention put into them, their quality and craftsmanship means they are still almost as good as new and well worth keeping. They’ve not been discarded, given away, nor ended up in landfill. One day they will find a new home to be enjoyed again.

One of the many reasons Elfriede established the school, was so that she could share not only her skills by mentoring but her love and passion for creating personalized, beautifully hand-crafted garments which become meaningful beyond their physical form. They have become awesome memories as well.

Fur cuffs for boucle wool suit.
Hand beaded embroidery on silk dress
Pleated silk insert for sleeves

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