I absolutely adore Christmas. I can’t say I like putting up all the decorations very much, but once they’re up, I love being cozy in our living room by the fire with the mantle covered in pine and the tree softly glowing in the corner. The thing I like best about Christmas though is the excuse to give gifts.
There are few things that get me like a really special and personalized Christmas gift, you know…the kind that you generally can’t pick up at Walmart or Macy’s.
One of the strongest ways I give love is through gifts, a trait we see popping up pretty heavily in Thing One these days as well. I generally start my Christmas shopping around the end of summer as it takes me that long to narrow my choices down to just the right thing. This often means a lot of time pouring though Pinterest, Etsy and specialty retailers online looking for something people never even knew they’d love.
That’s part of why I was SO excited to be able to see one of the best Christmas presents ever be gifted from someone I dearly love to someone else I dearly love over Thanksgiving.
Regular readers know Hair is my best friend. We’re talking soul mate best friend. For 18 years, she’s been there for every major up and down of my life. She has the biggest heart of anyone I know…she’s simply put: awesome. Because she’s been so integral to my life, my parents know her extremely well too and view her as another daughter. In fact, years and years after Hair and I became close, her father ended up becoming very good friends with mine. God has an amazing way of extending family. 🙂
Last year when Hair’s grandmother passed away, her father showed up at my mom’s house with bags of old fabric. Hair’s grandmother had spent most of her life making clothes for herself and her family and sewing curtains, pillowcases and whatever else they needed. As they were cleaning everything up, they ran across tons of leftover fabric. Not wanting it to go to waste, Hair’s dad brought it to my mom, hoping she’d have some use for it.
Boy did she ever.
For the last year, she’s been quietly working away on not one, but TWO gorgeous patchwork quilts large enough to fit a queen size bed and hang down the sides. (You see, Hair has a sister whom we also love and adore…so there simply HAD to be two quilts.) Using the fabric her grandmother sewed curtains, pinafores, shirts and skirts with…my mother hand crafted two beautiful comforting quilts…right down to hand stitching the seam holding the backing to the quilt.
The results are beautiful.
So the weekend of Thanksgiving while my parents were here, we invited Hair over to hang out and visit one night. After we’d had dinner, my mom asked her to come join her in the living room because she had something to show her. As the two of them sat down on the couch, mom started to unwrap a sheet from around a large bundle.
She explained to Hair that about a year ago, her dad had shown up with a large bag of fabric pieces from her grandmother. Then she started to tell her that she wanted Hair and her sister to have something to remember their grandmother by and so she’d started looking at the fabric to figure out what she could make. As she was telling the story, she showed her the label she’d hand stitched into the back of the quilt saying who the quilt was for, who it was made by and where the fabric came from.
Then she started to unfold the quilt so you could begin to see the pattern and the fabric. This was the point at which Hair lost the ability to talk…
As mom kept talking, telling her how she had to cut out ALL the fabric for both quilts and then piece them together a few blocks at a time, going back and forth between the two to make sure both quilts were finished at the same time, I think everyone started to lose the ability to talk.
Soon we were unfolding the entire quilt and spreading it out across the floor, looking at the pattern and listening to mom talk about how she found it and decided on this design.
Mom had given Hair’s sister her quilt a few days before while they were all visiting with Hair’s dad and said her aunt had been there as well and recognized several of the fabrics. She told us that several of them had been used to make pinafores for her and her sisters when they were little girls and how much she loved seeing them now in the quilt.
All in all, it was one of those evenings filled with the good kind of tears and tons and tons of hugs.
And THAT my friends is what I love most about Christmas. Giving someone something from the heart…something that doesn’t have value for it’s price tag, but for the time, thought and effort that went into making or finding something that will really MEAN something to the person who receives it.
So as you gear up for Christmas shopping season, please remember to look beyond the latest hot gadgets and the millions of sweaters, ties and appliances that everyone else will be giving for Christmas this year. Look to sites like Etsy and Pinterest for hand crafted items that are one of a kind and for ideas of what you can put together yourself.
As a family, we’ve decreased our Christmas spending to about 1/3 of what it used to be each year and to be totally honest, I don’t think ANYONE has missed it. In fact, it’s taken Christmas to a new level of awesomeness because the focus becomes about the chance to show someone who much you care instead of how much you can spend.