There is no greater gift than the gift that comes from the heart.
Perhaps this is why there is something so special about receiving a homemade, hand-crafted gift.
All of the love from the sender is within the gift itself, and can be felt by the receiver.
I am certainly no professional at anything in particular, but I feel a satisfaction when I can give something that I have made, and I appreciate receiving these gifts, as I know that they are unique and one-of -a-kind, not like any other.
Last weekend, my kids and I went out for a Nature walk and returned with willow and other little Nature treasures. After a little creative thinking and some twine, we had ourselves some new Christmas ornaments.
Needless to say, they were fun to make from start to finish, and we plan on giving some away as presents as well.
I feel blessed that I was raised by parents who always valued a homemade gift much higher than anything purchased in a store. We were always encouraged to make something whenever birthdays and Christmas rolled around, and the highest praise was given when we put in time and effort to give something special. As writing has always been a favourite past-time of mine, my parents have received many poems and stories over the years.
I now echo these same words when my kids ask me what I would like for my birthday.
They already know the answer; make me something.
What I find so amazing about homemade gifts is that there is no limit to what can be given. We really do all have something to give, as we are all unique in our talents and abilities.
I have been fortunate to receive many amazing gifts from talented friends and family over the years. This picture is from my birthday last January, where I am sporting a headband crocheted by my daughter, Summer, and a neck warmer by my dear friend, Livy. Something that I asked for on this birthday was an opportunity to go for a cross country ski, and so my mom, Livy, and I went out and enjoyed the day.
Often, just spending time doing something we love with someone is the perfect gift. And for myself, being out in Nature is always a hit, so I tend to feel that every moment spent in Nature is a gift.
As my parents always taught us the value of a homemade gift, they always try to give of themselves as well. My dad is a man of many trades, and carpentry is one of them. This bird feeder was a gift from him and I think of him often while I enjoy the cheerful activities of the birds.
This is another beauty of the homemade gifts; we always think of the giver and our hearts are warm with their memory every time we see it.
He also constructed this playhouse and swing set for my kids, and others similar to it for my brother and sisters' families. (the swing set has been painted in John Deere colours, of course). I often think how special it is for my children to grow up playing with gifts built by their grandfather.
My mother is also a woodworker, and has built treasures for family and friends as well. She has also sewed many projects and as a birthday gift to me one year, she altered a pair of farm coveralls for me so that they would fit properly. Due to my small stature, I often struggle to find work clothing that fits the way it should. In this case, the crotch was at my knees, but after mom was done with them, they fit like a glove and I have enjoyed those custom-fitted coveralls for years.
My mother and I also like to swap our latest creations in the kitchen, and often will prepare one another a nice meal for celebrations.
This time of year is when I pull out the dehydrator, thaw the fruit that I saved from the summer time, and make more fruit leather to hand out as Christmas gifts for very eager recipients.
It always feel good to share what I have, especially when it so well appreciated. Honey is also a gift that I hand out often and is always met with many smiles. Although I realize that I can't take credit for making it, I suppose I had a hand in the extracting and it was made from the blossoms of my yard.
My apple juice and preserves are also a "go-to" when it comes to gift giving, and I like to think that I am passing on the love and enjoyment that I had from growing my produce, as well as the nutrition from organic gardening.
I have heard many people say, "oh I'm just not creative or talented at all, I could never make something for someone."
So maybe we need to expand what we feel constitutes a gift.
After all, we all have talents that are unique to us. So what is it that we have to give?
Perhaps we are excellent listeners, and what we create is a space where others can share how they feel. Or we can brighten the mood of others with our presence.
Perhaps we are natural teachers, and can share what we know with those who are willing to learn.
My mother is also a wiz with numbers and bookkeeping, so you can probably guess as to who I get to help me come tax time. This is another lesson from my parents; doing something for someone or helping them is the best gift that you can give.
I have also noticed how many people seem convinced that what they can do really isn't special, while the rest of us are exclaiming, "how did you do that?!"
As the holiday season approaches, and who could possibly miss it, as it has been pushed in the stores since mid-October, may we recognize what our gifts are to the world.
It can be easy to get caught up in the commercialization of the holidays, and I can't help but feel that we have complicated the act of giving. We search for the "perfect gift", and often overlook the perfection of simplicity.
Or maybe we would simply like to support someone who sells their hand-crafted items.
After all, these gifts are also very special. They are unique, unlike something made in a factory that is one of millions, and possibly packaged by someone who was having a bad day. They were also crafted with joy, which is sure to be sent on the receiver.
This holiday, may we all take a moment and look inward, into ourselves and what we have to share from our hearts. And may we also look at the natural world and simple pleasures.
For this is where real gifts come from.