Back in June I had mailed a letter and t-shirt to our families and close friends. The t-shirts, customized from zazzle, looked like this--
Marmee took a shirt with her to Italy and had our relatives do it, including Nonna, one of Steve's favorite people. There's one of Nonno walking with his quad cane and wearing the shirt, grinning from ear to ear. Both of lamb's pups and Leetzie Lee the evil cat had a picture taken. Our youngest nephew, nearly 2 1/2 years old, is crying in his picture but still looks too adorable for words with the shirt being held up to him by his dad. If there was one, Fridad's girlfriend Carol and my aunt Simona would both win a prize for 'sexiest rendition of the tee'. Hoodles just looks so darned pretty in his picture, as though he had been waiting all his life for me to come along and drape an I Heart Steve shirt on him. One of the nurses who cared for Steve is holding her pregnant baby bump with the shirt on. Tiara is acting goofy in her shot, just being her wonderfully silly self. I could go on and on. I really could. There's our downstairs neighbor, and Donna is waving with a huge smile, and Marmee has her head tilted in a way that makes me miss her even more, and the XXXL shirt absolutely swims on Katelyn, and...people brought their own personality to each picture (or maybe I'm just reading into it too much as I keep staring at them all).
As I got each photograph I started making the garland. Colorful quarters of fabric were bought and no two were alike. They were doubled over and cut down to size to border each 4 x 6 photo, then a running stitch was made approximately 1/2-inch down. This made an opening wide enough for baker's twine to be threaded through each fabric square and connect them all in one long garland. The photos were secured to the fabric with adhesive spray.
I actually like the imperfectness of the garland -- it sort of has this Tibetan prayer flag look to it what with the frayed edges and bright colors. From the front you see all these fantastic pictures all with the recurring I heart Steve message...from the back it's just a riot of color. I loved how it turned out.
So. This was all a big fun secret. On Steve's birthday night I hung it up in our dinky apartment, let him come in, and what followed next makes me wish I had gotten around to reading my camera's manual to figure out how to work the movie component.
Steve: "Did you just get random people to put on a shirt that says I heart Steve?"
-the birthday boy walks closer.-
"Wait a second. Is that Keaton? What? Wait. Is this Adam?? Oh my God--no wait--is this MRS. ROLAND???
And then he pretty much lost it. It was awesome. We went down the length of the garland, looking at all of the pictures, belly-laughing at some, nearly tearing up at others. And all of my anxiousness that he'd be secretly wishing for an iphone while half-regarding my homemade efforts flew out the window. We are keeping this forever. It is such a joy to realize you've got an incredible bunch of peeps in your corner of this sometimes-scary world. I'm grateful that they were willing to play along and join in on the fun. Indulge us. They are all too good.