Do We Really Like Homemade Gifts At Christmas?

She looks talented, but I don't know . . .
She looks talented, but I don’t know . . .

There’s always someone at Christmas who says the real spirit of the holidays is lost on shopping and killing each other in stampedes at the malls. I think if people continue to line up on Black Friday year after year, they must get some kick out of the near-death experience and warfare. I go to sleep each night fending off the fear of being buried alive during a dystopian apocalypse so I stay away from malls after Thanksgiving.

My childhood friend used to get a bottle of cheap shampoo every year from her awful grandmother, but I’m not sure a handmade gift would have been any better. While the grandmother was closely related to John Singer Sargent, you could tell by her hair and make-up that she’d have no talent.

Someone always says, “Let’s keep things simple this year. How about only homemade gifts?” Maybe during the Civil War that was a good idea. People whittled back then. I still have my grandmother’s whittled figurines and tiny sword (she was post-Civil War, but still whittled and knit). I wonder why she whittled a tiny sword?

Anyway, the point is I wouldn’t want a homemade gift from my brother. While I’m not impressed with a New York Jets ski mask, I can’t imagine anything good that could come of him crafting something for me.

I bet these women knew how to knit a good turtleneck.
I bet these women knew how to knit a good turtleneck.

When I was super broke I did the homemade thing because I was fairly good at sewing and painting, but I still got the sense that people were like, “I spent good money on her and she makes me this weird tree ornament with a creepy painted face on it?” I was going for weird and primitive. I thought my weight-lifting, UFO obsessed brother would like that!

Lest we beat ourselves up too much about what Christmas has become, we should remember that in Europe partying hard at Christmas was the tradition for centuries. We only gave all that up as Puritans. Finally as the Civil War progressed we decided we needed a good lift out of the misery of death, doom and destruction. Yes, the gifts were mere tokens compared to the electronic extravaganzas and blood diamonds of today, but people back then were no saints and probably some of their homemade gifts were less than stellar.

Do you really like homemade gifts?

26 thoughts on “Do We Really Like Homemade Gifts At Christmas?

  1. –>I think if people continue to line up on Black Friday year after year, they must get some kick out of the near-death experience and warfare.

    I think this is related to what I alluded to in my last – rather lenthy – comment on your blog. We are a messed up species and sometimes get our thrills in the weirdest of places.

    –>โ€œI spent good money on her and she makes me this weird tree ornament with a creepy painted face on it?โ€ I was going for weird and primitive. I thought my weight-lifting, UFO obsessed brother would like that!

    I totally would have loved that! Creepy painted face ornaments might actually make my wish list this year.

    Do I – as a general rule – like homemade gifts? If they are messed up and weird, yes. If they are just shoddy versions of something I would buy, no. But I’m at a point in my life where I have way too much shit around the house, anyway, so why do I really want more?

    What would be really nice is if someone came by in a pickup truck and offered to help me load it up with stuff I want to get rid of and then she just hauled it off into the mystery, leaving me to always wonder: Was she real? Was she some kind of wood spirit? Or a ghost maybe who came back to earth to set accidental hoarders back on the road to the simple life? Maybe she died under an avalanche of stuff and God has sent her back to help save others from the same fate…

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    • Aw, now that’s a sweet little hoarding tale of redemption. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Still thinking about your last comment, but need more time to think about it.

      Every once in a while I just get rid of tons of stuff. For no real reason–maybe a flash of generosity or out of boredom. Sometimes I regret it.

      At this point people should just buy me earrings. They’re small and I just lose mine. My son always buys me a random $5.00 dvd so he can sell it back later in the year when I don’t watch it. (Okay, I’m not going to watch Brady Bunch episodes I wasted my entire childhood on). ๐Ÿ™‚

      Here’s hoping you get you pick-up truck angel!

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  2. Hi… It’s so nice to see the word ‘Christmas’ in print! My local public radio station actually used the phrase ‘Gift Giving Season’ the other day and I almost threw up. ‘Holiday Season’ is almost as bad, but how can anything equal gift giving season?
    Personally I wish everyone would simply stop giving gifts (except to children of course) and simply devote a little time to each other at Christmas (and don’t get me started on just what Christmas Day has become)… I find it more than a little annoying that the loveliest time of the year has descended into an orgy of shallow materialism, which is especially ironic when you think of just what Christmas used to be.
    Don’t get me wrong – I simply love Christmas but these days the crass commercialism has made it something of a love/hate relationship: I love the love, and hate the … gift giving. What a dilemma.
    Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and carry on wishing people, especially strangers, a ‘Merry Christmas’ (as I do) despite the near total absence of the word in our Brave New Politically Correct World.
    Oh, and a Very, Very Happy New Year!!!!
    Martin

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    • MERRY CHRISTMAS Martin! I think since Christians started the holiday we should be allowed to own the name. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’ve made peace with the gift giving thing–I just don’t put as much time and effort into it. I sit down, go online and buy stuff trying not to obsess over what people will like. Then I kick back, try not to listen to too much NPR ๐Ÿ™‚ and enjoy decorating the tree, listening to old carols (The Holly and the Ivy and Jesus Christ the Apple Tree are my two favs) and just thinking about what the holiday is all really about.

      I love the nativity story. Pure magic and hope. Charlie Brown’s Christmas is pretty good as well–good thing it came along before the PC police went insane.

      Anyway, hope you have a great Christmas and New Year. I’m sure it’s beautiful where you are at this time of year.

      All the best,
      Adrienne

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  3. I like homemade gifts of FOOD. ๐Ÿ™‚ Once in a while, someone crafty will make something nice. One friend gave me a scarf that I like for sentimental reasons, but it’s not as warm as the one from the store. (you cracked me up with the pic and comment on the turtleneck.)

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    • I like food gifts as well. My Irish friend brought us brown bread this summer that was so good! No matter how I try mine is never like hers (and do I really want to bake bread most of the time?). Glad I made you laugh. I hope you’re feeling well these days!

      Love,
      A

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    • I’ve tried booties on my Cavs, but they always pull them off for the Velcro–they love Velcro! It’s so funny when they come in from the snow with snowballs stuck in their long leg fur. Does getting a puppy Cavalier count as handmade? Handmade from heaven? ๐Ÿ™‚ Did you see the story about the big rescue of about 100 Cavs from a puppy mill?

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      • My cav hates wearing anything. He does love the snow and then he gets snow balls in his hairy feet, legs, belly and ears. No I didn’t see the puppy mill story. How could they do that to poor cavies?

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    • My husband makes me gifts all the time since he’s good at building things. I’ll take those any time. Actually, I’ve decided I do really like most homemade gifts.

      Do you ever wonder who designs the really cheap acrylic mittens and gloves they sell at dollar stores? I always get drab beige ones in Secret Santa things at work. Imagine if your job was designing junk?

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    • I have blobs of painted clay on shelves and desktops from children. I love kid gifts and letters.

      I personally love homemade stuff, but I was thinking that I no longer feel like making homemade gifts (lazy?). Also I was thinking– how many of us actually have the time to sit and knit a sweater for someone (also have you seen how expensive yarn is?).

      I think it’s sad that all of those womanly crafts are gone–since machines do everything so easily, yet I get very antsy any time I try to knit. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. I love homemade gifts and am warmed to receive them. Even more to give them except I’m not very good with my hands. The yummy, healthful holiday nuts that is my one signature gift I take 24 hrs to prepare and are lost on most people, though they love ’em, in that those peeps normally eat junk. So I’d rather give the nuts to those who really appreciate the value of such a gift. I do get why you wouldn’t want something your brother made, though ha ha ha. Gift of homemade is the gift of time. I just don’t have the time to make the things I’d love to for friends.

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    • AGREED!!! I just started reading a book that one of my students bought for me about ten years ago at Christmas since he knew I was a Civil War buff (I wore hoops and a great walking dress to school one day so it was kinda easy).

      It ended up getting lost and then found and now I’m really enjoying it. My son gave me a creepy book on Satan one year as a joke. I read it and it gave me nightmares for weeks–thanks, son!

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      • Glad to know you keep unread book for over ten years! ๐Ÿ™‚
        I just made a major shift in my personal library, putting the unread books in a separate shelf for priority reading! ๐Ÿ™‚
        (And I’m sure your son meant well!)
        Take care
        Brian

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      • Could be the fascist side in me (God forbid!) But what I find is that as one grows older and realises how little grasp we have on the world, tidying up is soothing: bookshleves (books are the most beautiful objects ever invented), closet, sweeping leaves off the terrace. Result is guaranteed.

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