Okay, so I decided to make some handmade presents this year. You remember the camels. And the dress I made for Andy? And there are a few other things that will show up in the Party post. I swore years ago I wouldn’t ever make big Christmas projects again—it always come down to the wire and muddies up the season. But money is tight all over, and I really do love making stuff, so I took a leap and forged ahead.
But before I post the images, I have to say this—I wouldn’t say that I’m a person with tons of friends. I mostly hang around my house and my little family. Rachel and would hardly ever see each other if we didn’t both end up at church every week. And yet, when I sat down to make a list of all the people I’d like to give something to – even just a tiny token of affection – I was pretty shocked by the length of it.
There are beloved family members – parents, children, sibs, cousins, grandkids – and friends that are like family, then neighbors I may not even know all that well – because there isn’t time in the world to become intimate with every person who lives in the neighborhood or the church ward or the school – I mean, so many people you’d really like doing things with if you only had the time.
And when you try your best to give something to all those people, you can’t. You just can’t. So then you have to winnow down the list – do you give only to the very special kindred spirits? Or do you give to the people you know are lonely? Or the people you like very much from afar? Or the people who have been so kind to you? Or to the people you really DON’T like very much, but you should try? Eventually, you start finding reasons why you shouldn’t have to give to this person or that person, and the whole thing becomes one big rotten mess of confusion and guilt. Which is stupid and no fun at all.
Hurray for the party, where I get to give some of my dear ones a sort of living Christmas card all at once in person. And church, where we get to do the same thing in a different way.
In the end, I still ache to give something to some of the people I feel kindred to, but missed this season. I want to send good wishes and affection to them, even without an accompanying something. In fact, as I handed ornaments to some of my neighbors, I got glimpses of their trees – my earthy little ornament and their dignified, very carefully color coordinated and formally sparkling designed trees – and realized that I had just burdened them with something that didn’t match them very well at all, well meant as the gift might be. They’d probably have been much happier with a hug and a kiss – or maybe a cheeseball (like I know how to make those).
Ding Dong: Little Drummer Girl at the door.
Oh, too many words and not enough pictures.
Pictures of Sultan, just because I love him. He came with Gin for Fake Thanksgiving.
And a picture of our amazing and wonderful neighbors who came after the huge snow storm broke dozens of huge branches off our trees in November. One day there was a knock on the door, and there’s Luke – offering to haul away tons of dead branches in his giant contractor’s trailer. Then another neighbor stopped to help. You can see Luke’s very young son, working like a man, raking the driveway. This is about un-making messes. This is about a gift that goes far beyond a token in the hand. Given TO me.
The pile of presents destined for Gin’s car. If you look closely, you can see the very beautiful tags I made to put on the boxes.
I made the tags with this machine. It’s call a Cricket and it belongs to a very kind, wonderful, funny neighbor and friend, Lisa, who hauled this thing to my house and taught me how to use it – and then trusted me enough to leave it with me till I’d used up all my tag paper.
I cut these -
Out of this. How glorious the holes are -
And I cut them in this place, hung with lights and guarded by the Three Wise Deer.
I made these guys. The crazy one is for Andy. The dark Pendleton blanket one with the red mane is for Max, and the Gozo green guy is for Donna, and the light blue Pendleton is for Sandy. The last one is for memememe.
This is winter pony. He’s twins.
You remember the seventeen camels? They’re all part of this, too. I just wrote to the camel pattern designer and sent him the link to the Dressed Camels post and got a note back – he was pleased with my excess and the baubles I added.
Then, after Donna taught me to make reed deer, I made a few. Forty of them.
They all look like this one – leaping deer, trimmed with ribbons and feathers and a fine, tiny red bell.
Gin sent me a picture of a really cool ornament she loved, so how could I not try to make her something close to it?
Remember the stool I made a few months ago? The burned and painted piece of wood I’d been aching to try doing for years and years? I thought I’d better try to do one for Sandy. So I asked a few probing questions about motif and came up with this:
To remind Sandy of his California trip. The beach and the seals.
Being no artist, I search for photographs, images of the thing I want to render. Then I trace the outline of the thing in Photoshop and print out the line drawing. Then transfer it onto the stool, part of a bigger design. The sun and the fish and the water and the clouds are characters I’ve “drawn at” all my life. And palm trees.
And not-really-Nemos, because Sandy loves them.
Old lady, wrapping.
And I kind of wanted to do something for Andy and Scooter, too – so I did.
One day I asked Scooter what he’d like on a stool if he had one. He said, “A tree with four happy dogs under it.” So I found four happy dogs. The blue one is his sleeping buddy, “pup.” Andy just got my long-time loved cat.
Last, but not least, Murphy came to me privately—swathed in a dark cloak, his face covered with a slouchy hat – to say that Laura would never ask such a thing, but had confided to him secretly that the Christmas desire of her heart was for me to make her a Calvin-and-Hobbs Hobbs doll. Which I had no idea how to do.
I love the net. LOVE IT. When it behaves. It was the act of a moment to find a pattern—drafted, it turns out, by a man who loves to make things for his son. The pattern is on “Instructables” (sp?). He happens to be Mormon man who sews and does carpentry, among other things. So I girded up my courage and gave Hobbs a go. How could you not try to deliver somebody’s secret Christmas Desire?
Holy cats. Hand sewing on the stripes. I didn’t do a swell job. But it was all done with love. My fingers are still sore.
And he seems to know how to do his job.
I watched a whole lot of very smarmy Hallmark Christmas movies through all this making and the hours of wrapping and cleaning while G worked his heart out in the studio (we are so grateful to be working in this bizarre economy). It was such an odd season, kind of running before the storm, keeping the bow to the swell. But then, it was a strange year. Many of you have said the same of it. I wonder why? Did the earth shift just a piece of a degree on its poles so that the shadows haven’t lain quite right?
But there has been no dearth of love or fun or living. I can’t figure it out the feeling. I just can’t.