That was something I could always count on.
She mopped the kitchen floor every Saturday morning.
She let us go swimming every day in the summer, always after we had done our chores.
I'm pretty sure we had to scrape and paint the ginormous white picket fence that surrounded our home at least once every summer.
And it seemed there was always a quilt on frames, waiting to be tied.
My mom taught all of us, both the girls and my brothers, how to tie a quilt.
She tied a quilt for every cousin that ever got married, and no matter how many people were there to start the quilt, it usually ended up just being mom and my sisters who finished the quilt.
One time when my brother was in high school, he and his friends went to the church gym to play basketball.
They were disappointed to find the gym already occupied, with the ladies from church tying quilts for a humanitarian project.
My brother's friends agreed to help clean up, but my brother pulled up a chair, threaded a needle, and helped to finish the quilts.
I'm quite certain that one act earned my brother the favorite young man award for eternity.
When my brother told my mom he wanted to tie quilts for his two boys for Christmas, and he wanted to surprise his wife, my mom didn't even bat an eye.
She helped him with the fabric, and then came to help him set the first quilt up in our office.
It was funny to watch my mom and sister and my brother work to put the quilt on the frames.
The entire process wasn't technical enough for my brother, so he brought in his tape measure and some other tool I don't know the name of, and squared everything off perfectly.
For a week we quilted more than we worked.
My mom and some of our sisters would come down and help when they could, and my cousin Travis avoided the quilt at all costs.
We had some good conversations while we quilted, and once in a while when one of us would say "I didn't know that" in response to a story, Ben would say, "It's because we haven't done enough quilting."
I took advantage of the situation and had my siblings help me tie a quilt for Emily too.
I had had the fabric for a while, just never the opportunity to quilt it.
One day a customer walked into the office and Ben wasn't quick enough to shut the door to his office.
"Well, isn't this just cute," the customer said.
When the guy left Ben said, "There goes my man card."
On the last day before we closed for Christmas vacation, I was alone finishing up Em's quilt.
My cousin walked into the office and said, "If you breathe a word of this to anyone you'll be in trouble."
And then he pulled up a chair, threaded a needle, and helped me finish up.
The week I spent with my family working on these quilts will always be one of my favorite Christmas memories.
Let me show you what my sister and brother-in-law gave me for Christmas - it was my other favorite part of Christmas.
They built and painted the picture frame and the shelf for Em's elephants.
Looks like there's room for a few more elephants.