EllynAnne Geisel — Tie One on Day™ 2018

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EllynAnne Geisel

EllynAnne Geisel

EllynAnne Geisel married her Prince Charming and for over 20 years lived her dream as a full-time mom. As the nest emptied, she imagined living another dream, that of a writer. A first article, she decided, would be about the symbol of domesticity and motherhood:  the apron. Scrounging secondhand shops and estate sales for aprons to purchase as inspiration, she found herself thinking about the woman who had worn the apron, the family she had cared for, and the stories the aprons might tell.

aaEllynAnne's-laundry-basket-of-aprons-croppedSeeking others who thought of aprons as storytelling prompts, she toted around a basket full of old aprons as a prop to encourage people to recall their apron memories. For four years, EllynAnne listened and wrote it all down.  Initially, she thought people would share warm fuzzy memories of mothers and grandmothers . . . but the scope and variety of the stories stunned her.

aaIMG_2903Uncertain what to do with her apron research, EllynAnne impulsively attended a writer’s conference.  Her idea of aprons as memory triggers that celebrated the spirit of women was greeted with such encouragement, she gained the confidence to embark on her dream. It wasn’t long before she wrote her first article about aprons.

Eventually, she gathered hundreds of aprons and as many apron memories from across America.  From those stories, she curated and wrote Apron Chronicles: A Patchwork of American Recollections, a traveling exhibit, which earned her a national spotlight and recognition by The New York Times.

EllynAnne has written the award-winning The Apron Book:  Making, Wearing and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort, Apronisms:  Pocket Wisdom for Every Day, and The Kitchen Linens Book:  Using, Sharing, and Cherishing the Fabrics of Our Daily Lives. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered.
She also created Tie One On Day™, recognized by Chase’s Calendar of Events and celebrated annually on Thanksgiving eve.  So — what is Tie One On Day? EllynAnne explains, “Nine years ago, as I was preparing for my family’s traditional turkey dinner, I suddenly thought about a neighbor. Her family had recently experienced a tragedy, and their Thanksgiving was not going to be about pumpkin pies.

Spur of the moment, I wrapped a loaf of bread in an apron and slipped a handwritten card in the pocket. Still wearing my apron, I walked two blocks, nervously half-hoping no one would answer the door so I could leave my offering on the porch. But my knock was answered, and my neighbor was so grateful of a gesture of recognition, so appreciative of an in-person delivery and a few minutes of kindly conversation. Walking home, I felt this unexpected joy. That such a simple act had made someone happy and my heart swell as well was an experience I knew needed to be shared. So I created Tie One On Day (. . . an apron, of course!) as a yearly encouragement to give from the heart through an act of kindness before giving thanks on Thanksgiving.”

Celebrated the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (November 21 this year), Tie One On Day participants are encouraged to wrap a baked good in an apron or other cloth and tuck in an personal note; then deliver their offering to a charity, neighbor, co-worker, janitor or nameless service clerk in need of physical or spiritual sustenance, a bit of recognition or just a kind word.

Whether homemade or brought home from the store and repackaged, a Tie One On Day offering includes a handwritten note and delivery in person. “One of my favorite things to give,” says EllynAnne, “is a few bakery cookies I’ve dipped in chocolate and packaged in a vintage tea cup.”   Her message from the heart is always the same: “Thinking of you.”