The Things We Need, Or Don’t

So very true! We have never been what some may consider “shoppers”.
In fact, I personally dread going into town. During the holidays, it would be very much out of our character to gear up and take part in ‘Black Friday’ or to cruise the internet for ‘Cyber Tuesday’. December is a month for slowing down, for taking long hikes into the woods, for enjoying lengthy chats over tea, for a nightly game of cribbage. It is also, in fairness, the month we will actually send out a few gifts to our family…books for the grandchildren, some nice flannel sheets to the grown up kids, a requested kitchen tool for our daughter in-law. The other parcels will be hand-made…wool socks, baked goodies, linen napkins, hand-crafted tea blends and spice rubs, ointments and salves to keep dry wintry hands and lips soft and moisturized. Every year, because my kids are good and thoughtful kiddos, they ask me what I would like for Christmas. I never have a ‘thing’ I want. More importantly, I want time. I want an experience. I would like memories with them and our grand children to place lovingly on the timeline that seems to be collecting behind me. So, Noah, if you are reading this, here is what I would like from you for Christmas. I would like a whole day with just the two of us ice fishing on some far-reaching pond or lake. I want to make a fire out on the ice so we can cook up a stew and some biscuits and the fish we catch and then linger over it warming our hands and just being so happy to be in one another’s company. O.K? And, Daughter, from you I would like a day in the kitchen with a collection of good chocolate and heavy cream and fresh herbs and spices and any other yummy ingredients we can collect and then throw in to making a scrumptious meal. We’ll whip up some fantastic food and try new recipes and do a lot of taste testing and wear our favorite aprons and we’ll linger over conversation and we’ll laugh and laugh and laugh and take turns putting on our favorite music C.D.’s (which will mostly be your c.d.’s because that is how it rolls with you and music, but I won’t care and will be content listening to your selections). That’s what I want for Christmas from you Zoe, O.K.? And, Daughter in-law, just keep sending me pictures of those two amazing grandchildren and keep calling me to tell me of what new development has occurred or what funny thing Violet has said, or how Zeb continues to look out at the world with a perpetual smile on his face. And call me just to chat and catch up and count on me when you want to have an adult conversation about politics, or velvet furniture, or travel, or any other topic that doesn’t include laundry and sippy cups and lost 2T footwear. You are important and dear to me and I love how our relationship is growing and finding meaning all on its own. And, just so you know, your natural ability to being an absolutely fantastic mother and me bearing witness to this, is a gift every day.
True words, the older I get, the less I want or need in the way of ‘things’. However, for the record, if a bicycle powered washing machine showed up under our Christmas tree , I wouldn’t turn my my nose up at it. ( Noah, my faithful fabricator of all things?).


Picture 2045I find that we often refer to the gifts that come with our living the life we do here at Fernwood. All of the things that keep us engaged and happy here…..our time together, providing our household with the food we grow, doing work that we love. Pretty amazing gifts. But today, as we near that moment of gift giving that will have us up in the wee hours, still in our pajamas, and sipping our freshly brewed coffee underneath a lovely balsam fir that has been brought inside, I want to mention the gifts that will be thoughtfully packaged underneath that tree. Have you ever heard someone say that they don’t like Christmas? I have. I think the Christmas holiday (for some) can bring on a bit of panic, and expectation, and some disappointment. I can understand this, our world has gone ahead and taken a moment in the year that should reflect the importance of peace, joy, and love, and created an occasion for emotions that aren’t at all very reflective of these things. The panic, the feeling of not having enough time, the craze of buying too many gifts to bestow on someone, which also can require loads of money …for what? I always shutter at this, and feel quite certain that if we had to ‘do Christmas’ this way, I’d feel pretty overwhelmed as well. But we don’t. I love this time of year. I love the reflection it can bring. I love making a gift , knitting a hat with wool from our own sheep for a neighbor or friend or loved one, a token of my appreciation for their very presence in my life. I think about them as I sit quietly forming those stitches, happy also to think that this gift will become a symbol of my love and fondness for them. I like feeling that this warm wool hat will help to keep their noggin warm when it’s 20 below.

small homemade candle holders

small homemade candle holders

old found objects  we've collected...the makings of a shelf for Noah's cabin

old found objects we’ve collected…the makings of a shelf for Noah’s cabin

the calendar Sally made me for Christmas...and beyond, a reminder of our days in Ireland

the calendar Sally made me for Christmas…and beyond, a reminder of our days in Ireland

I was gifted a page in the calendar, too!

I was gifted a page in the calendar, too!

The gifts I love best are always the ones that are personal and thoughtful. Yesterday I was given a beautiful calendar from my dear friend Sally. It was made up of the photos she had taken throughout the year, pictures of our travels together, moments we’ve shared on our adventures, all reminders of the great times we have, and the love ( and fun!) our friendship brings to one another. I keep flipping through the months, looking at the pictures, and being reminded of all those moments. A Very thoughtful gift, yes indeedy.
We feel fortunate that the kids have always had a good handle on Christmas, what it means to us as a family, and how we choose to spend it. We all agree that the meals and time we share together are irreplaceable. We’ve all been in the habit of making gifts for one another, or regifting things, or repurposing old items to create something new and special. We buy some things as well…not much, but we’re not against finding a little ‘something special’ to place into our stockings. Chocolate. A book. A box of tea. One year Zoe tracked down the very shoes I wore and loved in high school ( a pair of leather Clarks), bought them and put them under the tree. The thought of her listening to me fondly reminisce about those shoes, and then searching to find them is so touching…I’m still wearing them! When Noah was twelve and I asked “what might be nice for you at Christmas” and asked him to write it down, he left a slip of paper on the table for me. There were two items, numbered 1. and 2. The first was a welder, the second was ‘scrap metal’. That’s what he got, a used welder gifted to us from an old friend and a pile of scrap metal. He was delighted.
bulbs to be potted up and given

bulbs to be potted up and given

A pot of rosemary and some festive trinkets (found)  for a dear gardening friend of mine...who also loves to cook.

A pot of rosemary and some festive trinkets (found) for a dear gardening friend of mine…who also loves to cook.

If I could wish for one thing this Christmas, it would be to slow time up a bit. I’d like the 31 days of December to be spent thoughtfully, one day at a time, with each and every person I love. There is some magic to Christmas. There is ceremony. There are lovely gifts to give and receive. I hope everyone makes the most of this holiday season and finds just the right way to spend their Christmas.
Blessings to all…..