Friday, November 30, 2007

Giving Gifts, Giving Thanks

As the holiday season sets in, we turn our eyes toward home, hearth, family, and our inner circle. Akin to other seasonal migrants, we travel to other places or open our own dwelling for gatherings, story telling, gift giving, and meal sharing – revisiting the familiar rituals that revive the meaning of this time of the year.

This celebratory season starts with the remembrance of our dead, of the ancestors; then the celebration of life, of harvest, abundance and giving follows, concluded by the observation of rebirth. We decorate our homes with symbols of light and life, symbols that often have been transplanted here by other cultures. Their representation is very powerful, yet it begs the question – what is the meaning of this season for this land, for this people? What is the ritual, the story, the tradition that is uniquely distinct and meaningful for this land?

What gifts and food stuffs really come from this land and our hearts, not from the store – that is the question that come to my mind every holiday season. With each year I take it a little bit further – with a commitment now to only give hand-made gifts. Our extended family is diverse and varied in its preferences when it comes to gift giving, so it is hard to figure out at times how to meet expectations and stay on track, but I am getting better at it!

My gift making began in early July, with garlic harvest and braiding, and packing peach chutney and preserves in pretty little jars
This went on for the few months of summer, as my collection of edibles grew. Then I got some yarn from a local spinner, and started knitting – toys & clothing for the kids, scarves for adults,a couple of dearly loved but no longer needed books will be re-gifted, a fabulous baby blanket made of recycled fabrics and antique lace for the youngest in the family.

My husband Scott has made a few simple but very cute bird feeders out of scrap wood; he is also finishing up a hand bound version of his travel journal for this year. Some of our artisan home-made goat cheeses will be given away, or served. We are not against shopping, so a few exotic items will make it in the mix, but for sure there will be no buying “something” just to mark off a name on the list of family and friends.

Somehow making gifts and decorating our home with our own hands allows us to instill a little of our love and gratefulness to friends and family; it is a very special gift to very special people.

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