PALMYRA, Maine (WABI) - A Palmyra woman is finishing up the last of her grandchildrens' gifts.
For more than 20 years now, Lucille Atwater has made homemade pjs for her each of her grandkids.
All 86 of them!
Joy Hollowell has the story of the Christmas pajamas.
"I have 14 children," says Lucille Atwater. "7 sons and 7 daughters, nice and even. And I have 86 grandchildren and 1 expected at the end of January which will make 87."
Lucille and her husband, David Atwater readily admit, it can be tough keeping track of all those grandkids.
Including their names.
"The way you remember is, you remember each family," explains David Atwater. "If you try to take all 87 and go through, you'd probably miss a few."
Yes, you'd miss quite a few of them," adds Lucille.
How do they remember all those birthdays?
"With a calendar," replies Lucille with a smile.
Christmas, however, is different. It all began more than 20 years ago when one the Atwater's seven daughters wanted to start a new tradition.
"She said - My children are going to open pajamas from gramma on Christmas Eve," said Lucille. "And I said, Oh, I see."
Word spread quickly among the 13 other Atwater children and Lucille suddenly found herself with a plethora of pj's to make in time for December 24th.
She did it, and has continued the tradition ever since.
"This year was 63 pairs that I've made," she says proudly.
The sets are for grandkids 18 and under. THose over 18 get just the shirts. Each year, it's a different theme like favorite super hero or monster. One year all of the pajamas had numbers on them.
"It's their number in the family. Tucker is number one and Aubrey is number 86."
Lucille has a chart with each grand child's name and birth date to help her keep track of sizes.
As for when Lucille starts sewing her customized Christmas gifts-
"In February," she answers. "January is my month off."
And while she's never missed a deadline-
"I have been sewing until 10 o'clock Christmas Eve. And then bring it over and sneak it under the tree after they've gone to bed."
David wonders how much longer his wife of 51 years can keep this up.
"Yeah, yeah, he does," admits Lucille with a smile.
Does she listen to him?
"No, I don't," answers Lucille.
"No, she doesn't," confirms David, giving his wife a loving smile.
"Part of the joy of Christmas is finding just the right present for just the right person," says Lucille. "It's been good, it's been fun, it's been mostly delightful."
Of course, one has to wonder what happens when all those great grandkids start coming?
"Oh no, I won't do those," Lucille adamantly answers. "No great-grandchildren." she announces to the camera with a hearty laugh.
Lucille says she has no clue how many pajamas she's made over the years.