Monday, November 7, 2011

It's Time for Handmade Holiday Projects

It's November. It is officially time to get your butt into holiday gear! I take that back, for some - it isn't even Thanksgiving yet and not even close to being time for thinking about other holidays, but for those of us who value handmade holidays, it's definitely time to get working on those projects!

Out here in the damp Northwest, I've been busy spinning on my wheel in the kitchen or cozying up on the couch under a pile of handspun yarn, working on scarves and hats for the special people in my life. As an artist and otherwise crafty person, i usually try to give handmade gifts during the holidays. I also love to cook and take every advantage of family get-togethers to bust out my favorite recipes. Instead of art this year, i'll be giving a lot of gifts involving my new passion for fibers. I'm a beginning knitter, and these homemade gifts are sure to be a little rough around the edges, but i think that will make them even more well loved. For the knitters in my life, i'm spinning them skeins of yarn with the colors and fibers chosen specifically for them.

Although i don't have a garden to harvest from this year, my husband and i took advantage of wild harvests during the late Summer. Oregon is full of blackberries for the taking, and take we did! I put up a few half pints of blackberry/cayenne jam that we'll be sending back to Texas with our Christmas package so that the family we left behind can enjoy some of the seasonal bounty found in our new home. It's apple season here now, and i've been slicing, coring, peeling and boiling until my hands cramp into achey claws. Apple crisps, pies, breads and rings are sure to play some role in my holiday plans and gift giving. We'll even get to toast the new year with some homemade hard cider!

This year marks the first holiday season spent in the same state as my family in about 5 years, and i'm absolutely thrilled to enjoy our silly traditions with them once again. (I'm also pretty happy about only having to ship one Christmas parcel this year!) We have some pretty great traditions that always make the season seem to last forever. One of my favorite traditions that was started by my mother's parents and has been passed on to every new family member i have acquired, from step-sisters to in-laws. Instead of just the basic "To/From" tags on our Christmas gifts, we also include clues that make the packages mysterious and even more exciting. These clues are often riddles or rhymes, often silly and misleading, not meant to be a hint or description of the gift, but rather something more involved and engaging. Something as basic as:
To Mom, From Miranda........ "Greasy Bug"
Greasy Bug really meant a decorative silk "butterfly,"and after 15 minutes of trying to guess, with some pretty outlandish ideas, and failing, my mother opened her gift and laughed. That's what the clues are really all about: extending the morning, bringing out laughter and creating family memories for years to come. Because memories and joy are what the holidays are all about, and handmade gifts bring back memories every time they're tasted, worn, looked at and enjoyed.
I'm looking forward to sharing my handmade holidays with my readers this year, as well as with my family. I hope you'll share your own handmade holidays with me, and with the writers over at Not Dabbling in Normal. We'll be honoring our time honored, handmade traditions with you and can't wait to hear about what projects you're working on and what unique gifts you come up with.

Happy holidays, almost!

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