Thursday, January 23, 2014

Handmade with Love

Have you ever had the present dilemma? Here it is: you want to get a gift for someone, but you don't really know what to get them and you don't want to fall victim to the commercialization of holidays and just buy some thing you saw some where because you couldn't find the perfect gift. 

Am I alone in this? Pretty sure I'm not.

Don't get me wrong; I love presents, and I think that they can be a great way to express appreciation and love for someone when done correctly. But, I also know that there is more to life than what can be bought at a store, and I want my children to know that I value time and love over material possessions. 

Accordingly, over the last couple of years, my family has tried to cut back at Christmastime and other holidays on the gifts we give. More importantly, we have tried to make the gifts more meaningful. We still buy presents, but we also try to make some of them. Several of my favorite gifts have come from this shift in gift-giving philosophy. I now have a family recipe book that includes pictures and stories explaining the history and significance of each recipe. I have a biography of my Oma that was painstakingly written and assembled over many months but that taught me so much more about a woman I already admired. I have a photo collage of pictures of Will from each month of his first year.

Here are some of the things I either received or made this year:

I finally made Will a stocking this year (he didn't have one last year because I never quite got around to this project)! When Graham and I got married, I made stockings for our first Christmas with the goal of adding a new one for each child. It's not perfect, and I still might do some tweaking before next year, but I'm excited to have homemade stockings adorn our mantel yet-to-be-determined-place-for-hanging-stockings-since-we-don't-have-a-fireplace.

This one is really simple, but I'm glad to have it. I brought a bunch of ornaments into our marriage, but Graham had none, so to make sure he had some representation on the tree, I've bought him one every year. This year, I framed one of the very first pictures we have of my two favorite boys...about 10 minutes after Will was born.

My dad is quite the master woodworker. In the last several years, he has made some wonderful gifts: cut-out letters spelling "FAMILY", animal figurines for Will, a carved Santa ornament, and this elephant puzzle for Will. I almost don't want to let Will play with it because it's so beautiful, but Will LOVES it! He thinks it's fun to take out the baby elephant and then separate all the pieces, hanging each one over the edge of the box (at which point he has to have me put it back together).

My mom made these adorable Christmas jammies for ALL her grandchildren, complete with individually designed snowmen for the shirts.

Another project from my parents this year is this:

It's a reproduction of a block print my grandfather did many years ago. He was a talented artist, but has since passed away, so to have a piece of his art live on in my home is really special to me. Apparently, it was a last minute project on my parents' part, but I'm thrilled that they took the time to do it.

And last, is a baby gift/Christmas present that I have been working on for more than six months off and on, but I finally finished in time to mail it to San Diego before I left California. It's my first attempt at a triangle quilt, and I'm excited about how well it turned out. Hopefully baby Owen will enjoy his blanket for years to come.

I've already got a couple of projects in the works for birthdays and other holidays this year, and hopefully I'll get a start on Christmas early enough that I can have some fun projects to share next year.

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