Monday, December 28, 2009

None of us had to go to the mall

My family decided to have a non-commercial Christmas this year. The rules for gifts were:
1. Handmade - if not made by the giver, then all effort should be made to purchase directly from the creator.

2. Recycled/Upcycled - my mother found a Christmas Card I sent her 16 years ago and wrote a new note in it (below my old note) and sent it back to me.

3. Used - books, clothing, housewares or ephemera.

4. Reusable or recycled packaging/wrapping is encouraged.
I'm going to share some of the results of these rules over the next few days. Since this whole thing was my mother's idea I'm starting with this gorgeous basket she made for me.

In the center is a piece of cherry tree which unfortunately cracked, but I kind of like that about it.
My sister will be getting a similar basket also, but the flu prevented it from happening before Christmas. Sis got a box full of unwoven reed (she also got a not-quite finished sweater from me, poor thing).

Mom makes some amazing baskets and you can see more of them here. She probably wont appreciate the link, but she's talented and she needs to start showing off what she can do.

Keeping with the wood theme, Mom and Dad made sets of these coasters for all of us from slices of Black Walnut. I love them and they make me think that it might be time to buy a real coffee table...

Dad made me this lovely desk organizer. He's handy with the tools. He also made sis a long narrow spice shelf out of some old crown molding.

I'm trying to decide whether to keep it at home or bring it to work where I will find a way to use it every day.

We all received lots of small handmade things that mom bought at the Twist Fair (one of the best craft fairs I've ever been to. The next one is May 7 & 8, 2010 here in Northampton), the Snowfarm Sale (An Artist's seconds sale held over 3 consecutive weekends every November in Williamsburg, MA) and the Vermont Hand Crafters Show (I must try to get to this next year - mid-November in Burlington).

I think this whole exercise made us all think a bit more about what is really important to us. Not only the act of making things ourselves for our loved ones, but supporting artists and craftspersons in their efforts to live off their own creativity. The gifts did not need to be huge, elaborate, expensive things. Little thoughtful things that will make us happy. Like these lavender sachets Mom made. I will distribute them around my house wherever there is wool (take that moths). Months from now I'll be digging through a basket of yarn and the smell will waft out. I'll think about mom and how thoughtful she was to make them. How she knows that my yarn and woolly things are important to me. And that moths suck.

Stay tuned to see how my brother, sister and I interpreted the rules.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

At least I saved on the stamps

I used to handmake all of my Christmas cards, but then one year life was too busy. I'm pretty sure I thought it was just that year and that I'd go back to making cards the next year. I did not. For a couple of years after that I bought cards and mailed them feeling all sorts of guilt about them not being handmade. Then life somehow got even busier. I continue to buy cards every year, but somehow Christmas comes and goes before I've sent them. This year was no different. I bought the most fabulous cards (along with lots of other stuff) at the Crane Paper Sale in August. Really fabulous cards that I really meant to send. But here it is December 27th and it's not going to happen. So I'm writing a blog post instead.

This whole Christmas card thing is one of the few instances when I am jealous of people with kids. They can take a cute photo and have it done into a card pre-printed with their names and just pop that in an envelope. Or they can write a cheesey letter with paragraphs about each kid and which one is in what grade or college or got a new job and the vacations they took and the funny thing that happened that time in August. I considered borrowing some kids and taking a cute photo.
None of these people are related to me.

I considered sending out photos of my cats, but no one wants to see that. And, let's face it, that would just be sad.

Do you see how hard this is?

I could write one of those cutsie letters that people send (or you could read the one my parents sent if you are on their list). I could write about things I did this year, but you can read this blog for that. I could tell you about my job promotion, but I'm not going to talk about work here. I could write about places I traveled, but that sometimes feels a little like bragging (and some of it was boring). I could tell you that there's someone special in my life with whom I will be celebrating a second New Year's Eve with on Thursday. But I'm going to keep that to myself for now.

So, another year and no cards sent. I promise I'll try really hard next year. Until then, happy holidays (whichever ones you celebrate) and best wishes for the New Year. I love you all.