Handmade and Heartfelt Holiday

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
It begins when we're little, making construction paper decorations for the tree.....the tradition of handmade decorations.  From paper chains to glitter covered cut-outs, we are taught that handmade gifts, however imperfect, mean something special to the recipient.  And so it begins the years of making and saving sentimental works of love.
For some of us this 'handmade gift' idea ends sometime during our youth but for others, it continues into adulthood.  I'm one of those who hung on to the handmade habit.   I find the idea of a handmade gift a labor of love and in the day of materialistic commercialism, it's kind of nice to be able to give a gift from the heart, not just the wallet.   For many years, I've given a homemade ornament to my neighbors and friends.  Here's a few of them:

Quite a few years ago I was a professional crafter.  It was during that time that I made and accumulated most of my holiday decorations.........many I gave as gifts.

 And long before I was a 'real crafter', way back when I had the vision that comes with youth, I made dozens of these counted cross-stitch ornaments.    Here's a sampling of those.......

                   Here's the stocking I made for my first daughter's very first Christmas..........

Eventually, with middle-age eyesight, the size of my projects grew to things not requiring a magnifying glass.............

My point, you see, is not to show off my handiwork.  It is to remind you that gift giving should come from the heart.   It is not about how much we spend, or how many packages we can fit under the tree.  It is about showing the people in our loves how much they are loved and sometimes that involves time, not just money.  I received a note this week from a longtime friend, a friend who I don't get to see as often as I'd like.   But we keep in touch....and this week she wrote to me,
 "I decorated my tree last week and thought of you about a bazillion times…..there’s a huge chunk of xmas decorations that have been made by you and saved and preserved over the years by me.  I’ve saved every single one….even a few that Kobe got at when he was a puppy.  Such fond memories of the years when our kids were small.  Made me smile the whole afternoon as I was decorating."  
 Let me tell you.....that made my day and reminded me of why I began my tradition of handmade gifts.    After spending our first 17 years of marriage living in an apartment so that I could be a stay-at-home mom with my girls, we finally decided it was time to be brave and invest in a home.  That first Christmas after we switched from a consistent monthly rent to the variable expenses of owning a home, I stressed over whether or not Christmas might be a disappointment for our girls.  I knew my fears were unfounded when on Christmas morning we received the following gift from our oldest daughter, Katie.  
This gift, a gift from the heart, words from the heart, means more than any gift money can buy.  This gift reminds me of that first Christmas in our first home and reminds me that even then, our girls knew what was important.  They knew then that Christmas wasn't about 'stuff'.
Years from now, we won't remember the electronics, the boxes of candy, the latest gadgets that we gave or received any particular Christmas.  What we will remember are the gifts we received that were given from the heart, those handmade things made by our children, and grandchildren and friends.  Each year as we bring out those sentimental keepsakes, we are reminded of how much we mean to the person who thought enough to make something.  We live in a hectic world where people often equate love with money.  This season, think about getting back to basics and back to how things were before big box stores and online shopping.  Think about giving a gift from the heart, one that takes time, not just cash or credit.  Show the people on your gift list how much they mean by spending some time this Christmas either on them, with them, or for them......maybe in a handmade gift, or perhaps in the promise of time spent with them.    I promise if you do, that is the gift they'll remember.  That will be the gift they hold dear.  That is the gift you'll feel best about giving.  Christmas doesn't come from a box, it comes from the heart.  This year, give gifts of the heart.

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