Friday, November 14, 2008

Top Secret

Back in the day, Reese and I hand made Christmas gifts for extended family members. We have made so many things over the years....painted glass ornaments, piecework stockings, cocoa mix, clay angel ornaments, home made vanilla, toffee, decorated frames, letter blocks (as seen in photos -- a big hit with both sets of grandparents,) and who knows what else. A great deal of thoughtful consideration, time, and effort went into these presents. We encouraged our daughters to do the same and make gifts for loved ones. The idea was that something made from hearts and hands would be appreciated more than something store bought. Well, different people have different ideas of what Christmas (and in particular, gift giving) should mean, even within the same family. Everyone doesn't always have high regard for such a contribution; so after a few years of this types of present being largely misunderstood, we stopped doing it and started buying everything.

But last year, when Reese, Erin, Anna, Hilary, and Joy started asking for my Christmas wish list, I realized that what I truly wanted was something home made. So I sent Reese and the daughters an e-mail that said,

I've decided what I really want for Christmas...
something from your hearts/skills/or mind
such as:
a song, sung or played
a poem recited
a painting or drawing
a scripture passage memorized
something knitted
something baked or cooked
or whatever might come from your hands or heart

All of you are talented. Please give me something from your storehouse of talent.
Reese wrote and performed a bluesy love song. Erin drew something in colored pencils on brown paper. Anna knitted a scarf. Joy did a watercolor drawing. And Hilary promised to sing a song when her voice cleared. It was one of the best Christmases ever -- but then again, I say that every year! (Of course, it also meant that, in order to set a good example, I needed to make something for them as well. It had been so long since home made gift season that I felt a bit rusty and out of practice.)
This year, last year's e-mail was sent 'round again. This year, the preparations started a little earlier. And this year, it's really hard to keep such a big secret....from Reese. He's my very best friend and naturally, I want to talk with him about this little (big) Christmas project. The art studio is a wonderful space to create and at the end of the day, close the door. Keep a secret -- no problem, mon. Only the fumes from the oil paint and solvents is overpowering with the door closed! There's no ventilation. So, in order to not suffocate, and get a small amount of air circulating in the studio, this towel got hung in the doorway, with about a 12 inch gap underneath it. The fumes are still fumy, though not nearly as bad as they were the first week. The little sign on the outside (to the left of the blue towel) is to remind Reese not to enter the studio (please) because I'm working on his Christmas gift. The sign also says that I'll happily fetch whatever he might need from inside the studio, such as stored wheat berries for his most excellent bread making, or good beer (also stored in the studio) for the drinking.


marylamb said...

you are too cute.

Betsy Bryan said...

Now you're keeping the rest of us in suspense too! Can't wait to see Reese's gift.

Sarah Hazel said...'s still up in the air as to whether or not it will be finished by Christmas....we'll see.

Joan Breckwoldt said...

Sarah, what a wonderful post, I grew up making handmade Christmas gifts for my parents. Last year I got a poem for my daughter and I agree that handmade/written/ or sung are the best kind of gifts!
I CAN NOT wait to see what you're painting for Reese . . . but I suppose we'll all have to wait.

Joan Breckwoldt said...

oops, got a poem FROM my daughter.

Sarah Hazel said...

Joan, who said it's a painting? Maybe it is...maybe it isn't. That said, I would appreciate some advice on the big surprise...maybe could you come over one day????