Not So Simple Gifts
This started when I was in university. The day after the semester ended, I cranked up my Christmas Elf workshop. There were three problems with this:
1. Sometimes the semester didn’t end until December 20th.
2. I hate Christmas shopping. I especially hate Christmas shopping in the last 5 days before Christmas. Most of all, I hate places where Christmas carols play incessantly, and at loud volumes.
3. I never had much money.
However, I did have several pairs of knitting needles and, when I went home from university, access to a sewing machine. I also had an abiding love of hand-made things. The solution was to make everyone in my family a Christmas present.
There was one problem with this. The Christmas holidays were one of my prime writing times. I was so focused on my studies that I never considered doing any kind of writing, even keeping a journal, during the school year. What can I say, except that I was young and just getting my feet on the ground. Learning how to make a living (AKA studying) seemed so much more important than learning how to make a life (AKA writing).
So what was it going to be? Presents under the tree or pages in a file folder? Let’s just say that my family learned to accept promissory cards in their stockings. They eventually came to understand that not all gifts have to be given on December 25th. January 23 is a fine date for gifts. February 2 is, too. However, March is pushing it, especially if Easter is early that year.
In exchange for agreeing that Christmas could be a movable feast, they got the side benefits of inventive, hand-made gifts.
There was the year I decided that my gift theme would be whimsical animal totems. My niece, who loved to work out, got a Fitness Chicken with a “Be Healthy” bracelet around its ankle.
There was the year I enlarged cookie cutter shapes and made all the kids a pyjama bag in the shape of fish, butterflies, and flowers.
There was the year everyone got a word, suitable quilted into a miniature wall hanging. Doodle Food was for the professional chef, who liked to play with his food.
And there was the Christmas after a particularly hard year that everyone in the family got a box filled with hope—and a few chocolates.
They also got a few hand-made books out of the deal because I learned to write in my head while making things with my hands. More importantly, I learned to hold what I’d written in my head until I could get to my keyboard or journal. That is a very useful skill for an author because there are times when you simply can’t commit what in your head to paper right away.
So from the red-booted Christmas Elf’s workshop in the frozen Canadian north, I wish you happy creating, whether it’s on paper or in another medium of your choice. You still have another three weeks to Christmas. It’s not too late to start making those Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa/Solstice gifts.
I’ve taken the handmade pledge. Have you?
I pledge to consider handmade alternatives for all of my purchases, whether they are for everyday items or gifts, for myself, my family or my friends.
~Inspire Handmade <http://inspirehandmade.org/pledge.php>