The air is crisp, a storm is blowing in, and in the park down the street the Christmas Tree vendor has begun to set up shop. It’s time to start planning for Christmas! Last year, a friend and I decided to do a hand-made Christmas. My family did not do a 100 percent hand-made Christmas, but most of our gifts were hand made with love. My friend’s family decided to go for an entirely hand made holiday, and they had great success! She has four kids, the oldest was 14 at the time…and their Christmas was amazing. Rather than looking through toy catalogs or surfing the Internet finding things they “couldn’t live without,” the kids spent the weeks before Christmas quietly working on their gifts. They took great joy in secretly working on their gifts for each other, and were far more excited to give away what they had made than they were to receive gifts of their own. One child, just six years old, stitched pillow cases with her mother’s help. Another made hand-sewn stuffed animals for her siblings. The boys made tiny pretend food out of clay for their sisters’ dolls. And my friend and I spent many happy nights working together…we made pajamas for each child, matching pajamas for the girls’ American Girl dolls, sets of pretend felt food for play tea parties. We tie-dyed yards of cloth for imaginary rivers, stitched felt stones to decorate the waterways. There are so many ways to make a happy Christmas, and so much to learn from looking away from the lure of consumer glut and turning inward towards gifts from the heart. Even if you choose to make just one gift for each member of your family…or hand craft small gifts for extended family and friends…the experience of Making Christmas gives you a chance to slow down and focus on the heart. It gives you a chance to spend some time with your kids, making gifts for them to give away. What child doesn’t love getting into a project and creating something from scratch? And what family couldn’t use a little extra time together, Christmas music playing in the background, television and Internet turned off…talking and listening and learning together as they work on gifts to give away?
One of our favorite things to do is read aloud from the Little House on the Prairie books. We love to think of the Christmases that the Ingles family enjoyed together…the cozy log cabin filled with laughter, the hand made gifts that were so simple: Button strings, handkerchiefs, hand-stitched aprons and rag dolls. How simple their gifts were, and yet how much joy they found in making them and giving them! Compared to today’s frenzy and greed, these hand-made Christmases seem so….peaceful. Simple. Real.
It’s possible to experience that sort of simple joy! Give it a try. Make Christmas this year…even if it’s just one gift. I promise you won’t regret it!
In the following weeks, I’ll be posting some gift ideas for you to make. Some are great for kids, some are for parents to make with their kids, and others are gifts you can make for your children. Stop by to get ideas, pass it on and get others involved. Post some ideas of your own!