Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve thoughts

It has been days since I have posted...

...days filled to the BRIM with time in Santa's workshop. Fleece hats, ear warmers. flash cards in drawstring bags, soup-in-a-jar, cookies-in-a-jar, photo books for the grandchildren, stuffed animals, ping-pong ball shooters (Mark made those), temple softies, softie beds for little stuffed critters, 72-hour-kit blankets...I've lost track.

A week ago, I thought I'd have all the projects wrapped up in a day or so. Ha! Since getting out of school for winter vacation eight days ago, I have been giving every available moment to making gifts. A couple of mornings I was up at 5:00 am. I stayed up till midnight a time or two.

We barely made it to the post office in time for mailing gifts to distant family. I was tickled to hear that the packages made it to Kansas and Virginia today. I hope that every one of my children and grandchildren will be opening up gifts that I made for them tomorrow morning. (Except for Polly and her family -- they are waiting until we get to deliver our gifts to them in person after the new year.)

More than once during the week, loving friends and family have suggested to me that it's too much to make a gift for every one in the family. Or that I ought to have started back in July. More than once, I wished I were finished so I could go outdoors and enjoy the beautiful December weather. More than once, I longed for quiet to time to write, to think, to read a book for fun.

But while it's true that I became a manic grandma this week, and while I am undoubtedly grateful this evening to be able to (finally!) sit quietly next to our little tree, gifts wrapped, sewing machine put away, spending a few minutes thinking and writing before Mark and I read the Christmas story together, I have to say that I don't think I would go back and undo any of the hours I spent making gifts for my family. At least not this year. Mark thinks we should just give family gifts in the future, and maybe he's right (I'm not convinced yet), but for this year, I needed to immerse myself completely in pouring out my love for my family through my sewing machine needle, my overflowing stash of fabrics, some new recipes, some simple photo books for the children. Many of the gifts I made are soft and warm. I hope they feel like hugs to faraway family.

I don't want the Christmas season to be consumed with pressures about gift-giving, even if they are all mostly homemade. But when my family is so far away, I do believe that the gifts help strengthen ties between us. Mark and I have 9 children and 20 grandchildren. A few of them live nearby, but most are far away: Kansas, New Jersey, Utah, Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Nevada... I love my family, and I miss them. It was fun to make gifts for all of them this last week, even though doing so consumed every moment I had to give, and even though it meant that I didn't do other things I love, such as writing on my blog.

For years I was a bit grinchy every December. I whined about Christmas being too commercial, too much trouble, all I wanted was a peaceful season that didn't demand so much of me. I'm not so grinchy anymore, but I'm still trying to find a kind of balance in the season, a way to be engaged in joyful gift-giving while still reflecting on Christ's gifts.

It hasn't been all sew-sew-sew all week. Wednesday night I went out with a few of the young women at church to deliver gift baskets to some families in the ward. I spent several hours one day on an unexpected service opportunity. Mark and I helped Holly load her moving van on Tuesday, and yesterday I drove her to Vancouver so she could have her van shipped to Wisconsin.

And this morning I took a break from making gifts to help with the cleaning crew at church. I was the first one to show up, so I snagged my favorite job, vacuuming around the pews in the chapel. It was a tender feeling to think that I was vacuuming the Lord's house on Christmas Eve.

1 comment:

Polly @ Helping Little Hands said...

I've been sewing like a mad woman this last week too. I didn't get everything done I hoped I might, but I got everything done that was important to me (namely those quilts). I'm definitely not planning on making nearly as many gifts next year. I figured this was the year to push it a bit since there's no baby in the house. We're looking forward to seeing you and will probably talk tomorrow.