Simple Gifts

I think my favorite gift this Christmas season is wrapped up here. It isn’t for me or even from me. It’s from my big girl to her great-grandmother.

simplegiftsIt’s a crudely sewn cardinal crafted of felt because as she told me earnestly, “Big Nana loves birds, and I think a cardinal is her favorite.”

Big Nana who taught me patiently to sew many, many years ago. Big Nana who sews so neatly you’d think a machine did it—front and back, inside and out. I can’t wait to see her open this little stuffed bird with it’s big, uneven, loving stitches.

We’ve had a flurry of projects here lately. Some were done before Christmas, but since we celebrate with my family closer to New Year’s, we had extra time to wrap up some of this gift making.

I didn’t direct any of it. I offered suggestions when asked and helped locate materials. I threaded needles and knotted the ends of seams. I spelled words and read recipes. And when I found myself frustrated by the frequent requests, I reminded myself that this is the spirit of Christmas, thinking of others, offering something you think they will love, giving of yourself.

So there’s been sewing—a penguin for her cousin because it’s her favorite animal and two pillows because my little girl wanted to get in on all this present making too and felt pillows are what she can do right now. We’ve made a book, molded and baked a clay ornament, braided fleece into a snake, and baked coffee bread.

Quietly one day, by herself, my big girl found one of the pearl beads leftover from her birthday party and a scrap of gold ribbon. She used a glue stick and some clear tape an made me a bracelet.

My bracelet makes me smile with the remembrance her excitement watching me open it. The coffee bread, a favorite family recipe, was received with enthusiasm. I don’t know how they the other gifts will be received. I do know they were made with love and thoughtfulness and care, and there was great joy in making and the giving.

May these simple gifts—the love and caring, thoughtfulness and joy—find you in the new year.

What was your favorite gift this year? What simple gifts do you cherish?


Follow up:

Not surprisingly, Big Nana loved her cardinal. She was impressed with the sewing. “You can teach her the overcast stitch next.” I remembered suddenly learning the overcast stitch myself, the word sticking with me. I don’t remember what I was sewing, but I remember sitting in my grandmother’s living room and carrying my project into the dining room so she could rethread my needle for me.

The other gifts were met with kind enthusiasm from the cousins. The kitty ornament my big girl made for her little sister was not met with such kindness. The little one pouted that she wanted a sewn cat, not a clay one. “I’m going to color on it,” she scowled. She hadn’t changed her tune by the time we put away the tree. One of the things I love about putting up the tree is telling the stories behind or different ornaments. This kitty in tea cup has a story to it.