While the Handmade Holidays movement is appealing to me in terms of resisting consumerism, teaching my children the "real" meaning of Christmas, and showing off my crafty self, I'll admit that this year I'm handcrafting my children's gifts because I'm flat broke. There is really nothing left at the end of the month, with mortgage and childcare payments, and part-time pay. Often there's nothing left in the middle of the month, either. Things are about as bad, financially, as they've ever been. It's time to put snow-tires on the van but there's no money for that. Each month we wonder if we can hang on a bit longer (till I go back to full-time work) or if we should think about selling the homestead.
I don't think I would be alone in acknowledging the fact that choosing to live simply is based in large part on our income. It would be much easier to just go out and buy gifts, pyjamas, etc. for my kids for Christmas. And I know that a day might come where the little handmades I offer don't seem like "enough". But my mom mentioned the other day how lucky I am that my kids don't watch TV the way we did when we were kids. They really have no idea what's out there in terms of toys. When I asked them what they'd like Santa to bring, they were kind of stumped. So, anything new-to-them that's wrapped and under the tree will bring as big a thrill as some shinily-packaged, plastic-wrapped, store-bought gift.
I'm trying to kick the Facebook habit that has begun to absorb much of my "spare" time. Last night, instead of sitting there like a crackhead, chatting with friends and looking at other people's photos, I sat at the kitchen table and sewed these two quilt tops. We plan to repaint a small bunkbed, crib, and rocking chair for the girls, and present them with a little doll nursery, complete with colourful little quilts. The nine-patch is one of the easiest of quilt patterns: just cut out five squares of one colour, and four of another, and sew them together to create a checkerboard. Lots of these blocks will use up your scrap stash, and could turn into a quilt of any size you wish!
You can find a tutorial for log-cabin blocks here.
Every year I plan to send Christmas cards. "Plan" is the operative word, here. As a schoolteacher, December is particularly busy for me: with the normal decorating/baking/gift-making/etc. that goes into preparing my home, I also create gifts for my students, plan and rehearse our Christmas concert performance, transform the dramatic play centre into a Toy Shop, and so on. But with my rediscovered, Facebook-free time last night, I stitched this little patch, which I will glue onto cardstock. To keep things within reason, I've decided to send cards only to friends and family I see/talk to regularly, instead of to everyone in my address book. I know the ease with which I get overwhelmed. I love the word "peace"...and dream of really feeling it in my heart this holiday season.