Gifts from the heart

every winter, i hear a lot of grumbling about how Christmas has been commercialized. “Gifts should be from the heart,” people say. “Not big box stores with giant price tags.” I completely agree. Strangely, once Christmas is over the grumbling stops, even though by modern convention we’re obliged to give gifts at birthdays, anniversaries, other religious holidays and events marking accomplishments. Yet no one thinks twice about going shopping for these occasions. 

I personally believe that, time allowing, all gifts should be homemade because it shows that you care. Technically, I suppose if I shopped for that one perfect gift it would also show that I care, but no one does that anymore. They settle for the good enough or even (God forbid!) the gift card.

My best friend Grace and I have agreed that presents have become irrelevant between us. This is why we decided to exchange cards only. Being creative people, the only stipulation we have on our cards is that they have to be homemade. I have a collection of fantastically drawn cards from her and her collection of short story/collage cards from me keeps growing.

I really enjoy making cards for people because they stand out amongst the Hallmark cards that all blur together. It’s rather rare for people to get something homemade as a gift. They tend to appreciate it more. My favourite standbys for cards are collages, calligraphy and wax seals. I also like to send them by snail mail. It’s way more exciting to open a letter than it is to open an e-mail!

For gifts to go along with those cards, I’m working on a few different things. Right now I’ve got knit dishcloths in the works. Not fancy at all, but they’re handy and my mom loves ’em. Baking is always a fantastic alternative when giving gifts. You just have to find your signature goodie — for me it’s chocolate haystacks. My mom makes vinatarta for the family at Christmas. Grace makes chocolate chip cookies to die for. If I could draw or paint that’d be a good way to go, though that particular talent skipped me. In the past, I’ve written poems and stories, printed them on nice paper and framed them. There’s a few hanging up in my house, next to the embarrassing grade school pictures. 

Last Christmas, my dad got in on hand-making gifts. He found pictures of my Mom, my sister and I when we were each in Grade Two. He made a triptych of them and titled it “The Say Girls.” If my mom’s picture wasn’t in sepia, you’d have a really hard time trying to tell who was who. It’s one of the best pictures in the house.

DIY gifting is the way to go. It can be economical. It can be time consuming, but it shows you care in ways that gift cards can’t manage.