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No more sweatshirt jackets!, and other handmade gifts

December 12, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
In my younger days, I was determined to give out as many handmade gifts as possible for Christmas.

Put these situations together and tell me what you get: a working mother; a messy house; children with extra-curricular activities; and approaching holidays. This can only spell disaster, but this was my life a few years ago. During a conversation just this morning, another person and I admitted the stress we once put on ourselves during the holidays to do everything perfect and to get it all completed before the actual day.

If I had had only myself to deal with back then, I likely would have gotten all those gifts completed before Christmas eve, especially when I invariably don’t get the bright idea that handmade gifts are mandatory for a perfect holiday until around Thanksgiving. Who thinks of these things any sooner?

Before gifts can be handmade, one must first determine their talents for making such gifts. I can crochet, but since I had already gifted most of my family members with afghans and ceramics (the latter was, admittedly, a phase), a new solution to the whole handmade problem required research. The evidence of my repertoire for making stuff was proven by the several bottles of acrylic paint and quite a few expensive artist’s brushes that were stashed in a closet; a sewing machine and a serger sitting right there out in the open even though there was evidence of dust on the covers, a couple half-finished quilt tops and maybe a couple put together quilts that lacked the quilting part of the sandwich. If anyone reading this has ever actually made a quilt, I don’t care what Eleanor Burns says, you can’t make a quilt in a day. I’ve tried it and hence the previously mentioned unfinished projects.

If you were to look inside my craft room right now, you would think Pat Catan’s exploded in there. You would wonder how many people lived in this house because it is obvious that it couldn’t only be one person who began all of these things and then left them all in a “someday” pile . Certainly there are some completed items laying about somewhere. Where are they? Well, the truth is, they were all given away.

It has always amazed me that projects meant for someone else always have a way of getting completed one way or another, while things we intend for ourselves often get put by the wayside for a future burst of creativity. Besides the year-of-the-afghans, there was the cross-stitch snowman sweatshirt that my mother-in-law opened one Christmas; the teddy bear tole-painted microwave popcorn dispenser that lives on my daughter’s kitchen counter; and a multitude of heart-shaped lace coasters (so easy it only takes an hour to crochet one coaster) that were given to everyone I could think of who might need a heart-shaped coaster.

And then one year, like so many others who came to their senses, I finally said, enough is enough. Maybe, just maybe, we can’t do it all. Maybe we can’t do the baking, the cleaning, the laundry, the shopping, hold down a full time job and still make by hand a good portion of our gifts. Cookies were purchased instead of home baked and gifts were bought instead of handmade. Christmas came and we were able to enjoy the time with our families and no one cared that they didn’t get yet another ribbon-woven, polyfiber stuffed pillow.

But that was before knitting. Knitting came too late for gifts this year, but just wait. Next year will be socks, hats and scarves to wrap around my family and friend's cold necks when the weather turns. That is the idea. At least, until February. On a Saturday in February I will be carrying my knives to a woodcarving class. There, along with other super-crafters, I will unleash my talent as a carver and hopefully won't lose any precious typing fingers in the process. I hope my family likes duck decoys.

This morning there was no breakfast and no lunch, but there was brunch. My husband had a morning doctor’s appointment for a shoulder injury, and I was in the same town for work as his doctor so we met for a late breakfast/early lunch. There was lots of protein in this breakfast to keep me going the rest of the afternoon.


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Breakfast: 2 ounces grains; 3 ounces meat; ¾ cup vegetables; 2 tsps. healthy oils; 80 discretionary calories


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