Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Homemade Christmas

A few years ago, I got really disenchanted with Christmas. We'd bought the girls a bunch of things we thought they'd LOVE. And they did. For about 2 weeks. I was given a few things that didn't fit, and ended up returning my ENTIRE cache of gifts and never getting replacements for ANY of them. I was really troubled and discouraged by this and spent the next few months really questioning the entire Christmas season. Has gift-giving always been this way? Is this what I put so much time and effort into? Do I even remember the gifts I've been given over the years? If so, do I appreciate them and the thought that went into them? How do I make Christmas enjoyable AND memorable? I made a vow to never just go buy "stuff" again, and that has evolved into something truly deep and meaningful for me and for my family.

It began with a trip to the fabric store, where I bought some foam and some fabric. I spent my evenings that December busily sewing three little pillows for my three little girls. I found some beautiful paper and my favorite pen and proceeded to handwrite a letter to each of them. (Mike also writes them a letter.) I told them how much I loved them, what I'd seen them accomplish over the last year, gushed over how wonderful they were, and left them with my testimony of prayer and what it has meant to me in my life. They now use those little "prayer pillows" every night to kneel on as they are learning to communicate with their Heavenly Father.

The next year I chose to make little fabric covered journals and fun, feathery pencils for them. They were to be used only during the sacrament to help them think about the reason we partake of the bread and water. They could either write or draw a picture of something having to do with Christ. One week I asked them to write/draw something that Jesus made. Another week it was write/draw about why we love Jesus. Again, I wrote a letter to each of the girls, telling them how much I loved them, what I'd seen them accomplish over the last year, gushing over how wonderful they were, and leaving them with my testimony of the importance of keeping a journal and recording how we feel about the Savior.

There are a few things that I love about my new direction for Christmas.
1) I'm giving my children something they will use--and use often--so that it doesn't become just another present.
2) It may not matter to them now, but someday, they will cherish the letters they got from Mom & Dad every Christmas.
3) They will always have a record of their parents' testimony of specific principles of the gospel.

I have a renewed love for Christmas now and have decided to pass this on to my children. This year, we're having a "Homemade Christmas" where everything given will have to be made by the giver (with a little help from Mom & Dad, of course). The girls have already decided what they want to make and we've done some shopping for materials already. I think I get asked hourly by at least one of them if they can start on their project yet. I will be documenting the excitement as we go along. It should be an interesting ride! I hope this will make Christmas more memorable for all of us, and help us to focus on the reason we have Christmas in the first place.

The principle I'm focusing on this year will be the Sabbath Day. I plan on making that Sunday Box I mentioned a few months ago and have a really good start on items to go in it already. (Thank you for going out of business at 70% off Ben Franklin!) Since Dixon's a little too small to benefit from the Sunday Box just yet, and trying to keep with my Sabbath Day theme, I scratched my sewing itch and made these oh so adorable little man ties!

I gave the bigger ones away (as payment for Maggie's piano lessons...thanks, Eden! Your boys were so HANDSOME in them today!), but I'm totally excited to make a BUNCH more now that I have a pattern and it takes me only about 20 minutes to whip one up! And yes, I realize that this is supposed to be a Christmas present, but how could I resist??? Now I have an excuse to go buy some darling fabric and make some more!


Fiddlefish said...

VERY cute!!! Template?

Jonesy said...

Oh, Tara! I can always count on you to make me feel important! I have made a pattern for the ties (I'm assuming that's the template you mean?), but I have no idea how to make it digital. I could just cut one out for you and mail it, but I'm not sure when I can come up with a tutorial for it. After Christmas would be ideal, unless you wanna make one for Taylor for the holidays. Let me know what you need--I'll be happy to squeeze you in between all the homemade Christmas projects we have going on!

Kate said...

oh, me too, me too! I would love to learn how to make these.

Marisa said...

THANK YOU for this post! I've been struggling to come up with gifts for my kids this year that don't cost a ton, don't have a million parts to lose, and that will mean something for a long time, not just a couple weeks. I love the idea of the prayer pillows and the journals. And the tie looks adorable on your little guy!

Karrin said...

You are such an inspiration to me! Thank you for sharing these ideas. I felt like I was reading the Ensign - maybe you should submit an article. Thank you for being a wonderful mother!

Jonesy said...

Kate--Send your kids to school, then come on down and we'll have a tie party!

Marisa--I've made a list of other ideas for Christmases. I'll have to send it to you, along with some pics of Katie's hair that I told you I'd send!

Karrin--Thank you for such kind words! I don't know about being Ensign-worthy but I may just look into it. I admit I still have a lot of work to do in the mothering department, but being able to share ideas through blogs like this has helped give me more tools to work with. BTW I think you're pretty great.

EdenAnne said...

LOVE the ties! Even my boys continued stating just how handsome they were. AND...they stay in place - so no crooked clip on ties flopping all over the place. They are amazing. So thank you Amanda!!!