What does a person who sews get for his relatives for Christmas? Something he's made by hand!
After seeing Handmade Nation the other day, I'm all for making things on one's own, especially if it's for something like a gift for the holidays. There's something about the act of making something by hand that adds an extra element to any gift, I think.
I think that in our world today, and especially in our economic times, gifts of the heart that speak to fellowship and mutual caring are really invaluable. Not everyone can afford to purchase a lot of "items" for gifts, even if they are on sale with slashed prices for "Black Friday." It's not easy to pull away from the consumer mentality around the holidays, but it's possible.
I think there's a mental shift that a person has to make nowadays that readjusts the focus of holiday gift giving to take the emphasis off the material object that's gifted and direct it toward the act of giving itself. It's easier for some than for others. Personally, I know my family doesn't care what I give them--they're just happy it's coming from me. I'm the one they care about, not the gift itself.
And when you remind yourself of that, it's really freeing. And makes that mental shift a lot easier. I recall receiving gifts of homemade brownie mix in hand painted jars, of carefully crafted homemade memo books of school photos, of hand-me-down soft cover books that were well-read and thoroughly enjoyed by their original owners hoping I'd enjoy them as much as they did. In all these cases, it wasn't the item proper that was given to me as a gift, but the spirit of an experience that came with it. The taste of the brownies packaged with care, the frozen pages of memory never to be captured again, and the joy of reading that stimulates the imagination.
These are things that simply can't be wrapped up and placed under a tree. These are gifts from the heart that are intangible and priceless.
And it's okay to write a note that explains that. It's okay to include a handwritten card that says, "I hope you enjoy this blanket as much as I did. I used to wrap up in it when I watched TV, and it was perfect. I hope you stay as toasty warm as I did."
It's time we remember the pleasure of the act of gifting, and honor the authenticity of receiving a present given in that manner. There is real dignity and generosity in giving and accepting gifts from the heart instead of Wal-Mart. This is where family heirlooms come from. This is where memories are made.
I urge you to consider making something for your gifts this year. Or sharing an experience, not an item. Or providing a memory. Give from the heart not from the pocketbook.
And Life Life with Relish.
Image by mmolek, via Flickr. Creative Commons License.