Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Handmade Gifts

"And what would you like for Christmas?"
"A bird, from an egg, with other eggs, and a nest for it to sit in."

Abe was very specific on what he wanted for Christmas this year..... eggs with a bird and a nest for them all to sit in.  He loves playing with little birds, he digs through games to find his special bird pieces, his favorite bird recently lost his beak to a certain black and white dog who shall go unnamed.  I think this accidental bird de-beaking is what brought on his Christmas wish, a new favorite bird.  After days spent searching, I knew in order for him to get his particular request, it was going to have to be homemade.  Lucky me with just a bit of bartering my close friend said for one pair of used ice skates, she'd create the perfect thing... and she did.  He'll love it (and so do I), it'll get plenty of use, and after it loses some of it's appeal I'll make sure to save it along with our other special homemade gifts.

For as long as I can remember homemade gifts have always been made and given in my family.  I remember Christmas mornings with my brother and I tearing open packages in matching homemade Christmas p.j.'s, and then later snoozing while wrapped in homemade blankets.  I'm glad to have carried on this tradition, I try each year to at least make a couple of homemade gifts for family and friends.  I've made capes, sweater monsters, 12 foot snakes made entirely of fabric scraps, pillows, two years ago I even decided to make a couple of quilts, one for my brother and one for myself.  These quilts were made from strips of fabric cut from old t-shirts, Levis, and blouses, left behind from both our parents.  Since it's construction, I've made sure to pull it out every Christmas eve and leave it as a soft place to lie in front of the fire during the holiday break.

With my mother's crazy wardrobe, it's a colorful quilt, full of texture and love.
Every year we get the opportunity to participate in a Children Homemade Holiday Market.  What once started out relatively small, now has over 50 young participants, each with their own homemade wares to sell.  It's a great way to let my children shop for people on their list.  There is no real money exchanged, if you brought goods to sell, you receive a small bag of paper bills and fake gold coins, and after a couple of shopping sessions, it all works out, your wares are sold, and your list is checked off, everyone goes away happy.  I have to confess, I did a little sneaking and spotted a great handmade necklace, wonder if it's for me?

I'm grateful to have friends with similar traditions.  So far this year I'm the lucky recipient of homemade treats, jellies, mittens (I'll just add those to the hat and scarf from previous years, and I've got a complete winter set), and a jar of honey gathered from their own bees.  I even have a besty (who's been known to over think things) who rewards me with her art.  Her paintings and sketches are not only some of my favorite gifts, but also some of my prized possessions.  Monte even volunteered this year to help out with some homemade gifts for some family friends.

Found Monte's leftovers on the back porch this morning, they just didn't make the cut.  He's pretty thoughtful, he won't give away an acorn that he isn't completely happy with.
I've passed out a few small handmade gifts this year, but nothing really significant.  I'm about two weeks behind with my usual holiday spirit, however I did receive some gifting inspiration while at a friends house yesterday, when I spotted their wood carrier.  Monte's hinted about something to carry wood in the house with for a while now, so with some digging I was able to find the perfect material to make it with.  I found this old army pup tent for four dollars this summer, I knew eventually I could find something to do with it, and this was it's time.  It was a quick project, despite some tricky sewing around the grommets and snaps I'd decided to leave be, I had it done before the kids even finished their breakfast.  I don't mind the raw edges, and given it's use didn't see any reason to pretty it up.

My only desire was to keep the "US" print visible, kind of had a double meaning that I liked.

It's a far more functional and macho gift then last years fox embroidered pillow made from an old wool blanket, It'll probably even get a better reaction.  I tested it out, it holds Abe, I think it will work out great.  Now to just get it wrapped and hidden under the tree before it gets too much later, it'll be a busy night, and in the morning we'll all be excited to open our gifts, both the store bought and homemade. 

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