Christmas Traditions

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A few years ago, we made a decision as a family to each make one gift for each of the others (small family of 4).  For some, the creative, artsy ones, this was not that hard.  For others, they had a plan going in and also found it not so hard – time consuming, maybe, but not hard.  And the last family member? He found it difficult.  He googled, he cajoled, he asked around at the office, he looked for loopholes in the agreement that would allow him to buy something, like, maybe something from a craft fair – that would be home made, right?  But not by him. We made him stick to the rules.

On Christmas Day we were all presented with beautifully arranged mason jar kits to bake cookies or brownies or soup.  The youngest, 13 at the time, had knitted for each of us (mine was a dishcloth).  The eldest, then 16, had made something different for each of us – mine was a cardboard frame for a picture, decorated with beach glass.  I had typed up my trip journal and made a copy for each member of the family from our Europe trip that summer, and added photos of each of them in their copies.  The forethought and effort to think of something the other person would like, that our skills could manage, was far, far more challenging than paying cash for something from the store.  We had plenty of that too, under the tree, but the exercise of just one present for three other people was exhausting – but pleasantly so when we saw their pleasure in receiving it.

So much so, that we did it again the following year.  And the next.  We don’t have an official policy anymore, it’s just if someone wants to do it, and sometimes we don’t – time is a factor for the working stiffs among us, and for the students too.  But there’s always special baked goodies for each of us now, and sometimes something crafted from wood or wool.  Maybe a photo montage.  Last year, the younger one did special little things for each of us in her metal jewellery shop class – mine was a cat shaped pen holder (it’s tail is corkscrewed to hold the pen).

The inspiration for this tradition came originally from reading Bill McKibben’s “Hundred Dollar Holiday”, one of his older books.  But it’s one of those ideas that seems to surface in different places and at different times.  Here in Canada, on our public radio station (CBC Radio) we have a storytelling show called The Vinyl Cafe, hosted by Stuart McLean.  His stories revolve around Dave and Morley and their kids Stephanie and Sam.  The story that resonates with me just now is called The Christmas Gift.  If you have time in the next few days, and need something to doze off to after eating all the leftovers, give it a listen.

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Merry Christmas from all of us at Sailors Small Farm.

11 thoughts on “Christmas Traditions

  1. Seasons Greetings to you all from us all. Home made gifts – can’t beat them! Hope Santa was kind to you all x

    • And a Merry Christmas to all of you as well. No one here seems to have received a lump of coal or anything – rather a lot of chocolate perhaps, and no less than three jigsaw puzzles to tackle on these cold dark evenings, and it seems to have been the year of the infinity scarf. We are cooking our turkey tonight and sharing it with friends, having feasted at my brother’s home on THE day yesterday. I cannot imagine cooking turkey, roast veg etc and steaming a pudding in the middle of summer, as you might do – I’m plenty hot in my kitchen and that’s with the window open on a cold damp winter day.

      • We’re more the cold ham, new potatoes and vege type of family with trifle and pav to follow…but right now even the THOUGHT of more food makes me uncomfortable. Currently I don’t really walk…it’s more of a seafarers roll (and that’s not all due to the wine 🙂 )

  2. The homemade gifts are so fun and much more thoughtful for sure, but I agree, it can be taxing to be creative and find the time to work on them during this time of year. I was the receiver of two very thoughtful gifts that did not come from a store. M made me some adorable signs for our future chicken paddocks and his 15 yr old daughter made microloans to impoverished farmers on our behalf.
    We love The Vinyl Cafe but haven’t heard The Christmas Gift – will listen to it on our way to the farm – tonight we are re-watching the earlier Hobbit films in preparation for seeing the latest release at the theatre. Good thing my stocking was full of chocolate…
    Merry Christmas Sailors!!!

    • Both films in one night? That’s a marathon! We’re looking forward to #3 coming out on DVD eventually and will catch up with it then – we saw #2 on the flight down to NZ (how appropriate, eh? :)) back in the Spring. Love the idea of the microloans. Someone donated on our behalf to a charity that provides assistance in caring for working animals – donkeys, horses, alpacas etc. You’ll have to show pictures of the signs for the chicken paddocks -t he word “adorable” has me intrigued.

  3. Yes, the Hobbit marathon last night has left me a little bleary-eyed this morning…
    That is fantastic that there is a charity for working animals. I admire and am inspired by people that manage these organizations.
    M is a bit of a Renaissance man – a keeper for sure.

  4. I like it. Sis always makes gifts for us. This year there were cookie tins for everyone. Last year (or year before?) she made everyone bathrobes. That was the year I learned my sister thinks I’m a giant. But it is warm swimming in all that fleece.

  5. This year included peppermint bark made for each of us by the older girl (she also made to die for truffles for all her friends, but those ran out before she got to family :)), and from the younger teen, hand painted gift cards (watercolour) featuring scenes from the NZ trip for each of us. Which is good, because my gift to her was watercolour quality card stock and matching envelopes. The older girl gave me a hand painted plate, which has the name of the farm/blog on it. I have plans to get a photo of it for the blog.

    Bathrobes? Wow. I can sew straight lines OK, but armholes…in fleece? I know you know how lucky you are.

  6. Bill says:

    First of all, a belated Merry Christmas to you all! I really like this post. The way our culture celebrates Christmas gets me grumpy every year. But reading about traditions like yours has the opposite effect–it brings a smile. 🙂

    All best wishes for a very happy New Year!

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