Group continues Christmas stocking tradition

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — When December arrives, members of the San Juan Regional Medical Center Auxiliary sew Christmas stockings each year to give to each baby born in the hospital.

Lisa Murdock poses with her newborn twins Lindi Murdock, left, and Carter Murdock, who were born just the day before, on Thursday at the San Juan Regional Medical Center. The twins were bundled in Christmas stockings made by Crafty Creations, a service group that is part of the San Juan Regional Medical Center Auxiliary.

They deliver up to 140 stockings — assembled by members involved in the auxiliary's service group, Crafty Creations — made from material that reflect the spirit of the holiday.

Due to health care privacy regulations, the auxiliary does not distribute the stockings to patients. Instead, they deliver the stockings to the Childbirth Center for personnel to give to the babies.

Daphne Morrison, the auxiliary's historian, remembers that the project already was in place when she joined the service organization approximately 40 years ago.

For many years, the stockings, which are large enough to fit a newborn, were made from red fabric with white cuffs. But they have evolved to include patterns that reflect Christmas themes.

"This is a gift from the hospital to the babies," Morrison said.

Daphne Morrison, left, Debby Tillman and Eileen White of Crafty Creations, a service group that is part of the San Juan Regional Medical Center Auxiliary, talk about all the Christmas stockings they've made for newborns this year on Thursday at the hospital.

As of Thursday, 76 babies had been born in the medical center this month, including twins delivered by Farmington resident Lisa Murdock.

She gave birth to a boy, named Carter, and to a girl, named Lindi, on Wednesday.

Hours after the twins arrived, they received stockings designed with snowmen, penguins and snowflakes.

"I adore them," Murdock said about the stockings, adding the objects will serve as a reminder of the day her babies were born.

Throughout the years, the auxiliary has heard stories from countless parents whose children received stockings, including a volunteer who still has her daughter’s stocking from 1977.

"We hear from so many people who say, 'Oh, my mother got one of those when I was born,'" Morrison said.

Lisa Murdock's twin newborns, Carter Murdock, left, and Lindi Murdock, who were born just the day before, don Christmas stockings made by Crafty Creations, a service group that is part of the San Juan Regional Medical Center Auxiliary, on Thursday at the hospital.

Auxiliary President Eileen White said the auxiliary purchases material as early as possible so work can begin, typically during the summer months.

"Christmas comes in June for us," White said with a chuckle.

It is common for the organization to purchase fabric by the bolt since a yard can produce up to three stockings. With the price of fabric varying due to the type of material, the auxiliary can spend up to $100 each year on supplies.

"Whenever we can find Christmas flannel at a reasonable price, we will buy it throughout the year," White said.

She added they accept monetary donations to purchase fabric and already have bought material to start next year's batch.

In order to complete sewing and delivery to the Childbirth Center before December, the task is divided among group members. Members can trace patterns, which show the wear and tear of repeated use, or cut fabric or sew.

This year, Auxiliary Secretary Debby Tillman and her mother, Dorothy Hudson, sewed the majority of the stockings.

Crafty Creations, part of the San Juan Regional Medical Center Auxiliary, spends up to $100 each year on supplies for the Christmas stockings it creates.

"We had a little system worked out," Tillman said about sharing the responsibility.

Tillman, who is an executive assistant to the nursing administration at the hospital, said she sewed in the evenings and during the weekends.

"When I was approached and asked about it, I just couldn't resist. I thought it was such a neat thing," she said about joining the project years ago.

During an interview on Thursday, the stockings displayed on a table were made from fabric designed in red-and-white stripes, penguins in pajamas, snowmen and the traditional red.

Each one had a tag that stated, "Made with love by SJRMC Auxiliary."

"We wanted something so people could know and remember where it came from," said Teresa Becker, manager of volunteer services at the hospital.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.