Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Homemade Gifts

Unlike everywhere else in the blogosphere, I haven't really done any Christmas-related posts around here, and that's for two reasons:
1. The Mexico trip and graduation sort of obscured everything else.
2. We have a complex relationship with the holiday. One that brings us to think and pray things through every year.

In the interest of being straightforward, I'll try to explain it like this. We don't do certain things that are commonly accepted as Christmas traditions in our culture. For example, our family doesn't have a tree, since the Professor and I have issues with the pagan origins of that tradition. We don't do Santa either (although my four year old is a Santa fan, and that is something that falls squarely into the category of Not Worth Making an Issue About as far as I'm concerned. Childhood is the time for childish things. We grow. We move on. We discover silver hairs, far sooner than we would like). We try to fend off the predatory vultures of commercialism that love to hover at this time of year (don't we all!).

Let me be clear: I have no problem with what YOU do or what is important to YOU. Really! Life's too short for legalism of any kind. In fact, I'm only sharing where we are in our journey since it seemed sort of glaring NOT to address it. Shall we consider the issue addressed?

Here's what we DO do.

We do family traditions, taking advantage of the many ideas and opportunities for making special memories together (gosh, that sounded so sappy I just can't bring myself to reread what I just wrote).

We do send out cards and eagerly check the mail every day for those hand-addressed missives from relatives and friends. Thanks, guys!

We do gifts, among ourselves and some relatives.

We do look for ways to reach out to people around us.

We do listen to, and sing, carols. Not so much "Santa Baby" (ew!) as "Hark the Herald Angels" or perhaps my favorite, "O Holy Night." (What's yours?)

And of course, we do Jesus. (Always.)

For our family, we do a combination of bought and made gifts. This year, Ian is making learn-to-embroider kits for his sisters. He'll decorate mini canvas totes with fabric markers, and then fill them with goodies as inspired by maya*made here.

He has been wanting to make a wildlife album for a while, as place to collect his photos of various animals we run across. So I'm giving him a blank album, a pile of photos, and some cards made in Photoshop:
Some time in the next two days, I need to help the girls tie-dye socks for him without his knowledge. Good luck, self!


cjoy said...

Thank you for sharing this - so well put, so wonderfully balanced and so at home in my own life. You put to words what I have never been able to express.

As for songs: I must confess to always loving "Grandma got run over by a reindeer...", though I have other favorites that linger and resonate in my heart longer..."Oh Come All Ye Faithful" is but one of them.

Now I must run - I have a Honeybaked Ham to pick up this afternoon . . .

Stephanie said...

So funny, Hannah - I was just saying to Emma, while we were strolling on the beach not one hour ago, I said, "Emma, out of all the Christmas songs that are totally annoying you, which one is annoying you the most? Is it 'Santa Baby'?"

My favorite? Hark the Herald Angels Sing. All the verses.

Raji P. said...

"hand-addressed missives from relatives and friends" - ouch, so you would not approve of my Excel file that keeps track of and neatly prints labels for the 153 nearest and dearest people in the world that I send cards to?? I do write a note in my very own handwriting, if that redeems me somewhat. :)

Jenni said...

Well-said, SIL. :)

My fav seasonal song: Little Drummer Boy.

Hannah, you may just have to add "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" to your fav list... You know you want to. Admit it. ;p

em said...

beautifully written hannah. this is one holiday post that just makes me happy. it truly does. your family's homemade gifts show soo much thought & love. i heart them.

Jenny said...

Didn't realize you guys celebrate Christmas (in a low-key way) now. And where is my hand-addressed card?? ;)

Favorite carol? Sleigh Ride Growing up in Florida, the whole idea of a snowy Christmas seemed so magical!

Michelle said...

Very interesting to read this. We stopped celebrating christmas about 4 years ago for the same reasons. But we stopped altogether and began celebrating the birth of Jesus during the Feast of Tabernacles, when He came to tabernacle with us. We don't do any of the "traditional" things, but I love Silent Night and agree that many songs are still okay to sing. *Ü*