Making Christmas

The past couple years I’ve tried to incorporate one or two handmade gifts into the cache I give out to friends and family. Last year I managed to do three…that I remember. My father got a wall quilt (my folks have a spot to hang one in their room and it’s located on my father’s side of the bed) featuring two loons swimming in a pond. It was the first hand-appliqued quilt I’ve ever done and it turned out pretty darn good if I do say so myself.

The second was a costume for my sister to wear to the Renaissance festival. Actually, at that point it was more a promise. The dress has since been finished but she still hasn’t come over for the final fitting and pickup.

The third was a photograph for my cousin Kwana. She and her oldest daughter, Cheyenne, had come up to visit early in the winter holiday. Heather, Maggie and I took them downtown to see the Botanic Gardens all decked out in cheery Christmas decor and, while we were standing outside, I managed to snap a sweet picture of Kwana and Cheyenne together. I happened to have black-and-white film in the camera at the time and the resulting photo, paired with a nice silver frame, turned out really nice.

This year’s goal is to try and make as much of my gifts-to-be-given as possible. I’ll admit that part of the reason is economic. I’ve only got one regularly paying job and that’s only two days a week. I’m not really raking in the dough at the moment. Some weeks I’ve barely got enough to get downtown to my (unpaid) internship and back home again. Making Christmas gifts insures that everyone will at least get something.

That’s not to say that it’s the only reason, though. Or that I’m not spending money on these homemade goods. There are, certainly, things that I have to go out and buy: notions like zippers or thread or elastic, etc. Occasionally I’ve got to head out and pick up one or two bigger things. Overall, though, I’m trying to keep to using only fabrics and materials that are in my current stash. I save a good deal of bits and bobs from all the other projects I work on throughout the year so I’ve got a good pile to pull from.

The bigger impetus to go homemade, though, is more sentimental. I love giving gifts in general. I mean LOVE. I’ve never had all that much to spend on gifts but I always tried to spread around what little I had during the Christmas/Hannukah season. I love trying to figure out the perfect thing to get someone. Sometimes it’s as simple as remembering that a friend likes merengue cookies or finding a tchotchke that reminds someone of a shared inside joke.

Some of my favorite Christmas memories are centered around giving homemade gifts. The first Christmas that Maggie and I knew each other is one. I had asked her what she wanted for Christmas. Being from Alaska she was used to a much colder holiday season. She asked for snow. Keep in mind that it hadn’t snowed on or around Christmas in Northern Virginia for at least three years. I told her I didn’t think that was something I was going to be able to give her. Her response? “Come on, Nicholas. Make it snow!”

Thus began the creation of her “snow box.” I found a nice snowglobe with a reindeer in it, a headband featuring a giant snowflake made out of felt and made a bunch of homemade chocolates in the shape of snowflakes. I packed them all in a box with shreds of paper that looked like snow – courtesy of our shredder. The gift exchange took place at the theatre on Christmas Eve. The next morning I checked outside before calling her. All I said when she got on the phone Christmas morning was “Check outside your window. Merry Christmas.”

I’ll give you three guesses what she found when she looked outside.

Now, I’ll just stop right here for a second and state – for the record – that I’m not taking credit for it snowing on Christmas morning. I don’t have that kind of power, despite all my friends’ jokes about asking me to do anti-rain dances and the like. I simply had the good luck to have it snow and the presence of mind to call and alert Maggie about it. That said, it got me coolness points that year.

There’s actually another year’s homemade gift-giving that turned out even better than that one. It happened back when I was in high school and could quite possibly be my favorite holiday memory. I think I’m going to hold on to that one at the moment, though. At least for another couple weeks.

I’ve already started making this year’s batch of homemade gifts. Obviously I won’t be able to post pictures or descriptions about all of them…that would totally ruin the surprise for a few of the folks who read this blog. I will, however, do my best to keep you all updated on the non-spoilery ones as I complete them.

I’m currently working on a quilt for my nephew and some new potholders for one of my aunts. Pictures to come soon!

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