Homemade Christmas Gifts from the Heart.

Homemade Christmas gifts are often the most treasured Christmas gifts.

Once, when I was a poverty-stricken newlywed, I and my husband puzzled over what Christmas gifts we could get for all the family members.  We did spend many fun hours making them: small burlap bags with stenciled decorations that held candies and nuts, bookends made of library issue bookends with wooden squares glued to them (we had hand-carved initials or designs into them, stained and varnished them).

We grated bars of soap, added spices, scents and poured them into cupcake pans for homemade soaps.  We made and varnished bread dough baskets, made macramé plant hangers (it was the Seventies!), cooked smoked chickens and made homemade jalapeno jelly. We made modern art candles.

I started the tradition of making my own Christmas cards and have continued it every year since.  We made homemade gift wrapping (Kraft paper, which we printed with potatoes and cabbages).  The ribbon was binding twine and had a bread dough Christmas ornament attached.  My father called them Rustic Wrappings.  We made decorative planters resembling exotic animals out of papier mache.

At the time, I worked for a national restaurant chain in the home office, and the company offered employees knife sets that were “fair” for five dollars each.  They were unique in design and I got five of them to pad out our Christmas giving.

We had a difficult family member and made sure that she did not get any of the home made (inferior?) gifts.  Instead, she received one of the swank knife sets. We were making a real effort to promote Christmas harmony and reduce the number of snide comments that would undoubtedly spout forth.  We peeked out of the corners of our eyes as she opened her gift.  We could tell she was not thrilled, but when she saw the others opening their pitiful homemade gifts, she had the decency to keep her mouth shut.

Imagine our surprise when three years later we received that same knife set from another family member.  We mentally did the math.  The woman had undoubtedly given it to a family member for a birthday present, that person had given it to another for a wedding present, and eventually it had wound up wrapped up in a package addressed to us.

I have always had a fondness for the stories of O. Henry.  The journey of the serialized-gifted knife set will always be (in my eyes):  The Gift of the Magpie

Sara Marie Hogg is author of Catho Darlington: Lessons Learned from the Space Age. Click here to read more about the book or purchase a copy direct from Amazon. 

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