Monday, July 12, 2010


For all the times I rolled my eyes at your hand knit sweater,  I am sorry. For hiding that atrociously fluffy hand crocheted shawl, I beg your forgiveness. For tossing unopened jars of chutneys, assorted pickled pleasantries and hard but homemade fruit cakes I am wrought with guilt. For burying the quilt of avocado green and pumpkin orange in the back of my linen closet, I am truly shamed.

Though it's only July, I've been thinking about Christmas. Yes, Christmas. Though I thoroughly enjoy the holiday and all that it entails, about this time of year I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. As much as I consider myself one to "fight the man" Christmas means presents, which means consumerism, which means money. Or lack thereof. I tend to be on the "lack thereof" side and it is in July when I start to assess who gets what, how much it will cost and start squirreling money away to help soften the blow of the Christmas shopping frenzy I am forced to indulge in every year.

But I think things will be a little different this year. Different in a good way. I think some of our gifts this year will be homemade. I'm getting more confident with my sewing skilsl and have a whole slew of new books with projects just waiting to come to life. My knitting and crochet abilities are improving too. And I swear if I put one more jar of pickles in my pantry it might explode. When I was younger, I received an assortment of homemade gifts that, well, quite honestly I thought were hideous and either hid them or promptly threw them out. A 16 year old does not wear crocheted shawls. And who pickles peaches? Yuck! 

What my young and and inexperienced brain did not realize was that these gifts were worth more than any store bought item I received. Granted, 16 year olds do not wear shawls but the person who gave it to me thought I might need one. She thought the color of the yarn would look nice with my eyes and that I could wear it on the bus for my away basketball games to keep warm. She took the time to pick out a pattern, sit down and hook it. And I might not like pickled peaches but the person who gave them to me picked them from their own tree, sliced and pitted them and decorated the canning jar with fabric scraps and lace. They took time, a lot of time, from their day to produce something just for me. It's not so much the actual items that they gave to me. It was their time.

In an effort to live a more simple and fulfilling life, I have learned just how much time it takes to perform the necessary tasks to produce a homemade gift. By learning to sew and can and cook, I recognize the love that goes into something prepared by the giver's hands.I know how long it takes to can something. I know how long it takes to crochet an afghan or knit a sweater. I know how long it takes to make a quilt, even if that quilt is made with the most heinous shades of orange and green. Whether you like the item or not, I know that it was made with me and only me in mind. In the 11 or so years that have passed since I received that shawl, I've grown to understand just how treasured a homemade gift should be. As I begin my gift lists and determine who gets what, I just hope that the receiver knows that I was thinking of them while I made it. I picked out the colors/flavors/shapes just for them. I hope they know that I love them enough to give them some of my own precious time.

Lacking the skills for a homemade gift? Learn them! Just kidding. But really, go out and learn something new! If you want something handmade but don't want to make it, try a website like Etsy, who supports all things homemade. Many of the merchants will let you customize color, fabric, size ect. I realize that you aren't really the one making it, but it is homemade. And you will be supporting independent craftspeople and giving something truly unique, not another sweat shop, everybody-has-one, bad for the economy and the earth, gift. Go forth my friends. Create and give of your own precious time!

 Green Family, Christmas '09


  1. YES! To everything...I so love that my kids are young enough to still appreciate homemade gifts, and to be satisfied with one cool bought thing (e.g. last year I bought my son a Fisher Price submarine with a propeller that turns when you push it on its wheels...I'm good, but not good enough to knit something like that!)
    In my family of origin, with 4 adult kids+spouses and THEIR kids, things could get crazy. We have the little kids pick names, and then get a group gift for my parents. We also pick a name amongst my siblings. That keeps things simple.
    Funny that we're both thinking Christmas in July...I suggested this week that we rent a log cabin in the woods for Christmas this year, and go REALLY simple with the gifts...put our money into the cabin, a horse-drawn sleigh ride, and lovely eats! It's so hard to not get sucked into consumerism at Christmas (I do it every year) and then kick myself afterwards.
    My advice about teenagers? Gift card to the mall. Nothing you knit will be cool enough (I'm speaking from experience!) Haha! Loved every word of this post, and glad I found you here in blogworld.

  2. I agree. I never ever appreciated a hand knit gift as much as I did after learning to knit myself, and seeing the love, time and effort that goes into knitting something!
    The same really goes for anything handmade...
    last year we made a real effort to make most of our gifts, and this year I'm going to start earlier and hopefully get more done.
    Summer is the perfect time to make extra preserves, (great gifts)...I also collect old vintage tins all year round, and fill them up with homemade fudge, (perfect gifts for the neighbours)! Oh...and the wealth of homemade treasures on etsy...can't be beat!
    It's nice to read your posts, as they are filled with such honesty as you navigate your way into this new/simple life!
    xo maureen

  3. Is that a Christmas picture from the year I was carried off in the ambulance? What great memories. So sad that some of my handmade gifts were promptly sold in a garage sale, but I'm glad that most appreciate what I've made for them. Love you!

  4. mom leaves posts like that on my blog all the time..."I'm so proud of you! Don't forget to pick up some milk!" Haha!
    I wanted you to know that you're on my Top 10 list for a blog award...check out my latest post!

  5. Oh the joys of homemade presents! But how true you are that it is their TIME that they are giving and if only we could truly appreciate the thought that went into it.
    Just found you through the award that you won from Knitty Gritty Homestead. Congrats on that by the way!
    Your kids are probably too old for most of what I do but you should check out my newest "greening" journey!