Hanging her personalized needlepoint Christmas stocking was always a highpoint in Lauren Grandcolas’s holiday decorating rituals. Hers was the first made in a series of multi-generational stockings that her mother, Barbara Catuzzi, hand-crafted for her grown children and her arriving grandchildren. In the spirit of fairness, Catuzzi had placed the names of her daughters in a hat to determine whose stocking would inaugurate the project. Later, Grandcolas too would make one for her husband, Jack Grandcolas. The 2001 Christmas season was going to be especially meaningful for the couple. Married for a decade, they were expecting their first child. In 2002, a new Christmas stocking would be decorating their mantle.
On Sept. 11, 38-year-old Grandcolas, an advertising sales consultant for Good Housekeeping magazine, was returning home to San Rafael, Calif., having flown to New Jersey to attend her grandmother’s funeral. Upon arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport earlier than expected, she decided to switch to an earlier flight, due to depart at 8 a.m., to San Francisco. She called her husband to alert him to her updated arrival plans but, given the time difference he was still in bed. She boarded United Flight 93 and took her seat in row 11. From the passenger cabin, Grandcolas managed to place another call recorded on the couple’s home answering machine after the aircraft had been hijacked. With extraordinary calm and careful wording, she informed her husband that "we’re having a little problem on the plane; I’m totally fine. I love you more than anything; just know that."
After her death, her husband donated her beloved Christmas stocking in her memory to the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
By Jan Ramirez, 9/11 Memorial Museum Chief Curator and Vice President of Collections