I got an ad in my inbox today that said how many days till Christmas and I felt that familiar dread in my stomach. The ugg of not-enough-time, the dread of not getting it ‘right’, and then the real sinker – how to find the money. I love people more than I have money to spend. Ah, the Holiday dilemma. It got me wondering how do we reclaim the Holiday Season as good and as worth remembering, as a little less dreadful and a lot more joyful. I think I have a plan that will turn it around enough that we can feel the joy again.
Here’s the plan:
Make one gift this year. You only have to make one. Make it for someone you trust and care about. Read on to hear why, or don’t and just go make one gift this year. It will change the season and you. Promise.
I was a lucky kid. We made gifts for the holidays. My family did not have much money, but not having much did not mean we did not give a lot. We made our own wrapping paper before Martha Stewart made it a production you could fail at. We made Christmas ornaments that still make it onto the tree every year and still remind me what kind of kid I was. We made grandmother gifts, one of which she kept ‘til the day she died. When I found it, it about broke my heart in the best possible way. And, every year my mom and I make jam and bake bags full of treats for uncles, aunts, neighbors and the mailman.
Our gifts had a different glitter to them then store-bought ones did. Wrapping paper was made from newsprint and potato stamps we dipped in food coloring, ribbon was yarn and gift cards were made from construction paper. We baked simple things: bread and sugar cookies and jams we made from fruit we picked. Ornaments were simple. My mom’s tree was always topped, until it completely fell apart, with the toilet paper roll Santa I made when I was 5. Making was more about joy than the outcome being a certain way.
What I got from all this making was a way of seeing the Holidays. It was for me a time to give from your heart, a time to giggle and a time to remember. This making created a culture around giving that colors every aspect of who I am.
The wrapping paper taught me that details and care mattered when you gave a gift. I learned to tie a pretty bow and to fold beautiful corners. I learned that presentation was part of the thought we put into things – it was a part of how we felt about the people we were giving things to.
Making gifts required that I think about the people I loved; that I actually knew a little something about what they liked. It asked me to make time for them when they were not with me. It required me to plan and follow through with that plan. It was not easy or quick. It was as gifts are supposed to be – thoughtful.
What handmade gifts give the maker is even more spectacular — it gives us back what giving is about. It lets us put our hearts into something and into someone else. Remember when you were a kid and you picked flowers or special rocks for your mom? How you would run in so excited you might have actually smashed it along the way? Remember how great handing that flower to her felt, the way her eyes lit up, her smile. It’s like that again.
It can be scary too. What if after all this effort it is really ugly or doesn’t fit or they just don’t like it? I have had years of just don’t like its. These are scary states. You are vulnerable. When you make something and you let yourself feel how much you care about having made it, that’s a vulnerable place. And that is life. It’s a vulnerable place when you care.
Making gifts taught me to care in spite of the possible rejection. It taught me to value the gifts I made even when others did not. It also taught me to keep trying. Last year I got a win for the first time in 10 years with a relative I love and really don’t understand very well. 10 years of trying taught me: I ought to give what I love, not what I think will go over well, and to trust that my hands do good work even when others don’t see it. To keep trying because I want to – not because I have something to prove – makes life a more pleasurable trip.
Making gifts changes who you are and how you see the world. It just does something to your heart to actively care for someone else enough to make time to make something for them. I am not suggesting we make everything we give this year. That thought sends me into a panic. I am saying make one for someone you love this year. Make one gift for someone who loves you and you feel safe with. Make one gift that you can give yourself the space to care about making. Make one gift and it will change the way you see the Holidays.
If you want help seeing this as fun and possible, or some handholding as you do it, we are here to support you. ReFabulous is offering lots of Happy Holiday Classes, and we have supported and open sew hours as well. You have everything you need to do this, and we give you permission to not be perfect or even close to perfect as you do it.