Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Santa's Workshop

Our living room looks like Santa’s workshop right now, which is cliché but true. In an effort to save money, I moved my sewing machine in there so I could make Christmas gifts while watching Jude play nearby. It has been fun - I put old Christmas albums on the record player that I haven’t listened to in 25 years, and Jude plays with his trucks and toys, or pulls ornaments off the tree, while I work. It’s very festive.

I wish everyone made each other gifts at this time of year. Even though many people do search for just the right gift to purchase for each friend and family member, most seem like gifts bought because they had to – not because they enjoyed the gift process.

My Mom and my Grandma taught me to enjoy the gift giving process, and I have to say it’s more fun than the anticipation of getting gifts – not because I’m such a goody-goody, but because I was taught that finding just the right thing was fun. And when “just the right thing” was something I made, it was even more perfect.

Every year, Grandma still makes gifts for everyone, even though she is past 80 years old and not as mobile as she used to be. But she will put a basket of yarn next to her, or fabric and thread, and she will create a little something for each person, just because she cares. Homemade things mean so much more than something quickly purchased in a store, don’t you think?

It is our family tradition to take a wacky family photo every Christmas, posing with an item we received as a gift. (This gift is usually put on our heads for the photo, but that’s another story.) In those photos I can see many of the gifts Grandma made through the years – potholders, stuffed animals, vests, sweaters, quilts, crocheted Santas – and in my house those items are still used, still a keepsake from a loving woman and a memory of Christmases past. These homemade gifts bring gift-giving down to where it should be – a simple statement from one person to another that they matter to the gift giver.

So I’m trying to get creative this year. I’m making Advent calendars – elaborate sewn things that I throw together without a pattern, framed photos, and homemade cookies that I’ll put in tins with a bow. Jude will receive a few handmade things as well. We need to keep the tradition going. And someday I hope Jude will make me some glitter pipe cleaner ornaments or finger paintings or potholders. Handmade by him, it will mean so much more.

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