It started many, many years ago. I did not wake on Christmas morning expecting to find the latest gaming system wrapped up under our tree. My parents never stood in line to purchase Cabbage Patch dolls. I knew I would never find Guess jeans under our Christmas tree. Instead, I learned very young what joy comes when you give and receive homemade gifts. It outshines anything you could ever buy.
The weeks prior to Christmas, my mother would wait until my younger sister and I were sound asleep. She would lug her sewing machine out of the hall closet and pull the secretly purchased fabric and notations from the top shelf of her closet. Camped out on the dining room table for hours, my mom would sew dresses and doll clothes and crafts for the family. I will never forget the Christmas morning that my sister and I unwrapped Holly and Ginger, the yarn-haired babies nearly half our height that my mom handmade for us. Dressed in beautiful gingham dresses with matching aprons and bloomers that my mom painstakingly sewed, Holly and Ginger were the names she wrote out on the birth certificates she created for our dolls. These handmade creations were saved for last. The last presents unwrapped each Christmas morning. The favorite, most treasured gifts.
My sister and I picked up on this tradition and at a young age began to make each other handmade gifts. And as we grew older, we carried on the tradition that my mother started. We still make handmade gifts each year. I've given wreaths, hand-painted ornaments, knit scarves, sewed matching place mats and tablecloths. And the gifts don't always work out as planned. One year while in college I sewed my sister a poncho. A deep red chenille poncho with black fringe edging. It was way too large for my sister. But I gave it to her anyway, telling her she could use it as a poncho or as a picnic blanket. She still uses it as her Christmas tree skirt to this day. And each year, as she is setting up her Christmas tree, she gives me a call to remind me of the Christmas that I gave her a picnic poncho.
When you give a handmade gift, you don't just give someone an object. You give them a story. You give that person a piece of yourself.