Sunday, December 14, 2008

Are you done....?

I hate that know the one, "Are you done Christmas shopping?". I think the reason I hate the question is that I don't really Christmas shop. I never really have Christmas shopped. To me that means wandering around with a list of the impossible-to-find, impossible-to-please-with-the-finds and frustration.

I have a real appreciation for people who savor the experience. Gifting is a very personal expression. I have friends who shop all year and wrap with purpose. This year their living room will be decked in silver and black with matched ribbons and gift tags. This is their art form. I love seeing their hand-work.

Some people express themselves in their Christmas greetings. They create intricate pictorial directories of their year and their family and their lives. These are fascinating and entertaining.

Many in my extended family are artists with their baking and cooking. Making cookies involves their whole family. It is an art form. Many of them generously put together packages to give to family and friends. (We feel fortunate to have special people like this!)

I also get to enjoy watching people sew up elaborate holidays. Many who do this carry it out with purpose and planning and most don't seem to be overly stressed over the process. I think THAT is the key to any expression of love for the holidays.

Therein lies the real true RULES to gifting:
1. It must be genuine gifting (not obligatory).
2. It must NOT add stress to our lives.

I have participated in each of these expressions at the holidays to my level of ability and enjoyment. However, with age (and agony), comes wisdom. I don't sew everything. I sew what I want to sew. If I decide to make gifts for my family, I have to make a decision if it will be quilts or it will be pajamas or pillowcases. If I decide to make quilts and start in November, some of the loved ones might get a box of squares. I am not now nor will likely ever develop into the person who would get all this done in July and have it wrapped. The older I get, the less likely I will remember that I made something in July, then I would come up with something else closer to the holidays. Why not just wait for the holiday season and enjoy July?!

My family and friends don't expect gifts of grandeur. They certainly appreciate handmade gifts, but they don't feel less loved if I give them all pillowcase kits and write an invitation to come over on a Sunday afternoon for soup and sewing.

Another great gift that I think would be so much fun is the Softies book. I love giving and getting books. This one speaks to me because I remember studying the Childcraft books with the section on sewing stuffed toys. I did my best to make them. I don't really remember how things turned out, but I DO remember the pleasure of studying the construction techniques and planning and processing the making of stuffed critters. Softies is so inspiring. Just for fun, I think young wanna-be-sewers would be inspired. I think even non-sewers would find this book inspiring. It is an international publication that is fun for all ages. It is definitely a very popular publication this holiday season.

Because I love fabric...the touch of it....the luster....the pleasure of color (oh, am I carrying on--you got the picture didn't you)...I love to make things that really show off fabric. I loved making this apron out of the vintage Santa fabric. The fabric evoked fabulous memories for me and I wanted to enjoy it amply. An apron is a way to do that and to get something done that doesn't consume a lot of time. In fact, this apron (one of my favorites for the smart way you are building the apron), took me just an hour.

I think the fabric reminded me of my grandparents' Tom & Jerry set...and it really made me think of sneaking into their pantry to dip my fingers into the sugary goo of T&J and licking my fingers off. I don't know that I have ever had a T&J just the memories of the vintage Santas on the bowl and the pleasure of my grandma catching me and giggling at the antics was enough to make this fabric make me warm inside. So, I had to make an old-fashioned like Grandpa would be wearing while he was taking the turkey and ham out of the oven.

I will give this apron to someone who will appreciate it as much as I do. My daughter Monica gladly modeled it for me. Then she asked "so, will my butt be on the Internet?" Yes, dear will! And where else better to put the behind than at the end of my blog!! (sorry...that is real cliche)

Don't take on more than you can handle this holiday season. Pick up pillowcase kits, side setting table runner kits, a couple of yards of inspiring fabric and an apron pattern. Wrap them up, put the name tags on the packages. Sit back and look at the bare Christmas tree. If it speaks to you to decorate it...go for it. If not, just enjoy that it is up in the living room. Later on, IF you feel like sewing, unwrap one of those pillowcase kits and sew it up. Wrap it back up finished. If you feel like doing more, go for it. If not...your nephew might ask to come over someday and show you how to sew it up. Or better yet, tell him to bring you some lunch and sit with you while you sew it. He will love to see how you do this with that fabulous method that encases all the seams.

Please note that none of this message is "BAH HUMBUG." It also doesn't involve alcohol or stress. The holidays are a time of expressing love. If you can't do it without stress, then find a way to express love that gives you pleasure ...after all, isn't that the real pleasure....the joy of giving it freely and without stress?!

So, I am off to sew a couple things today because I want to!....All the Best to You, jill

p.s. Our Christmas tree has been in our living room for 10 days with no ornaments or lights on it. It doesn't look pained and it still is making us all happy. Henry actually can water it without digging around the ornaments. Victor has suggested that we not decorate it but enjoy it just this way. I love it that no one is guilting anyone out over decorating. Christmas for us is being together....and THAT we are.


HiMar said...

Hey, real fun! I look forward to the progress of the gifts. Looks
like you all are having fun, that is what it is all about.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I completely agree that a handmade gift is the best! I received only 2 hand-crafted wedding gifts, and I appreciate those far more than the ones from our registries. (Granted all gifts are nice, but knowing there was special thought and planning, and well wishes sewn in with every stitch... well, it makes me melt.)
I only have 3 rules when it comes to making gifts...
1. Only craft something for someone that will appreciate it, or will learn to appreciate it.
2. Don't feel bad about giving your dad a stack of fish fabric one Christmas and a quilt the next--he didn't really understand until the second Christmas.
3. If you can't do it all yourself, give a kit. There are tons of great kits, or pick out something yourself you know the receiver will love. Giving them permission to take time to work on a project, is almost as good as the gift itself! (Or buy fat quarters and teach someone to sew... that could be a great way to start a love affair that could last a lifetime!)