For Christmas this year, my family and I made our gifts for each other (see December's "Withdrawal" blog entry.) Not only did we make our gifts for each other, we made it through my homemade Christmas experiment. In tact.
After my retail-withdrawal tremors subsided, I threw myself into the experience of making gifts for the kids:
I made books for both Abby and Henry. (Now, please don’t roll your cyber eyes at me—they weren’t Martha Stewart masterpieces. Remember, I couldn’t buy ANYTHING and could only utilize the resources available to me at home.) Abby’s book was a rhyming Christmas story about her days leading up to Christmas; I’m fairly certain she will enjoy reading it in the years to come. Henry’s book was a truck extravaganza. I took him to different construction sites and photographed him on giant excavators, diggers and dump trucks. Those outings alone etched many lasting memories.
Hubby and I gave each other early gifts on Christmas Eve. (Minds out of the gutter, please.) We realized simultaneously that neither of us had yet made anything for the other—we both gave each other a homemade-gift pass, breathed huge sighs of relief, and went to bed hours earlier as a result.
Christmas morning finally arrived. We opened Henry’s gift from school—a hand-print Santa. How apropos for our hand-made Christmas.
Abby gave hand-decorated frames to both Daddy and Henry. Each was a huge hit. Santa, the champ that he is, brought small gifts to the kids, too. He also filled their stockings with Cheetos and gum. The wonder abounded when Abby and Henry found these prizes—and the amazement continued when we actually let them eat the Cheetos at 6:30 in the morning.
Hubby created a DVD showcasing the first five years of Abby's life. I now refer to this gift as The Showstopper. The moment I saw it, I started to cry. It was as much a gift for me as it was for her—I was absolutely shocked (and it is near impossible to surprise me).
We all sat together at 6:47 am on Christmas morning and watched that DVD. Hubby and I should’ve grabbed tissues before we started viewing.
My heart soared when I realized that my husband spent a week creating a DVD that recaps our first creation. (Incidentally, that DVD has been requested and watched more than ANY OTHER VIDEO IN OUR HOUSE, EVER.) Watching Abby proudly present her gifts to her daddy and brother, explaining how she made each one, filled me with pride and joy. My soul still stirs when I think of Henry asking me to read him his truck book, over and over again.
The dedication, love and simplicity of the morning amazed me. Interestingly, the usual Christmas night funk that usually hits me when it’s all over never arrived this year. I was full. And happy. We all were. Just what we needed.
Ultimately, Christmas morning delivered many treasures and lessons, none of which were purchased at a store. Soaring hearts. Stirring souls. A reminder of the true purpose of the season. Laughter. And Cheetos. Abby declared it "the best Christmas, ever." I agree.
As I realize all I've learned from this experiment, I'm reminded of the great Stone's lyrics:
“You can’t always get what you want,
But if you try sometime, you just might find,
you get what you need…” – The Rolling Stones
P.S. I loved our Christmas. We'll absolutley fold some part of this into our holiday tradition. However, just in case you think I’ve lost all my retail sensibilities, I want to come clean and report that I’ve been shopping the 75% off sales like a crazy woman. And it’s given me an idea for Christmas 2009…
Homemade Christmas gifts under the tree and post-holiday discounted shopping sprees. Has a nice ring, doesn’t it?