Saturday, December 21, 2013

until after christmas, then!

no. 1 elf daughter, d2, busy baking
 i was so busy with quilts this year, that the kids have done most of the christmas-ing around here. it was fun to see them take on baking and decorating completely by themselves, but i feel like i short-changed myself and them, too.

chocolate satin cookie people for gifting with caroling
  honestly, for the last few years, i've become a bit of a humbug. i am at the point where i would dispense with most of the season entirely. my house is so overflowing with toys, clothes, and whatnots already, that one more item will break the dam. we just don't need anything. gifting in these circumstances seems pointless and greedy.

 i've done the huge, over-blown, toyland-under-the-tree types of christmas, where i sit back on christmas eve nights, basking in the glow of the lights, surveying my christmas handiwork, and think to myself, "i did this! i make the magic." admittedly, it has been enjoyable. but i am left wanting. i am over that type of christmas, ready to move on to something deeper, more meaningful, more memory-based.

it's not that Christ has ever been missing from our Christmases. we're very religious around here and do a lot of religious events and activities through out the season. giving to others in need has long been a part of our celebrations, too. it's more about the pressure to be so many places and the christmas morning gift fest, with all the accompanying stress and expense beforehand, that leaves me wanting. maybe i'm just an idealist. but where is the simple, heartfelt christmas of the ingalls family? you know, little house on the prairie, where children get a set of red knit mittens and a few bits of candy, maybe a rag doll, in their stocking and are overjoyed about it. they were just happy to get a day to spend with the family, an evening with cousins spent eating few special dishes.

s1 did all the lights in the front yard himself
 my mr took over the gift giving for the kids last year. and we scaled back to one santa present, one parent gift. i, of course, still overstuffed their stockings with little goodies without meaning to. (how does all that stuff just build up so quickly?) letting him do the deciding was a big relief. but i still want something different. we don't need any of that stuff. can't we move toward christmas really being about giving rather than getting? i've been contemplating how to accomplish this for two years now and have yet to come up with anything brilliant.

i have to admit, though, that watching the kids give to each other is greatly satisfying. they earn their own money and buy the gifts themselves. i'm amazed at how excited they get over the things they do for each other. and sometimes at the expense they go to for their siblings, too. so although we might not need the extra trinkets around the house, it is gratifying to see them truly give of themselves.

endlessly stuffing cards
back to christmas present. i was engrossed in those 7 quilts i was trying to complete for christmas gifting and took it as a good opportunity to just ignore pretty much everything else. i was excited about giving them the quilts because it was much more meaningful to me that they have something made by their mother than another toy to litter the house. (dad and santa will still come through with a toy or two.) while i was quilting, two of my children took over all the decorating. and basically made a mess. they also did some of their own baking, which they are really good at, to deliver while caroling. i gamely went along for the caroling and was surprised to realize how much i was enjoying it.

cute detail shot courtesy of s1
after a week or two of watching them trying to create christmas around here, i started to feel guilty. i began to realize i was throwing the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. there is plenty of even non-religious stuff about the season that is good, that i like, that is worthy. apparently my children like it, too. they wanted a festive home, caroling to neighbors and friends, to bake for giving, to be with their family doing wholesome and creative things. i began to see that i was missing out on something important, on an opportunity to help christmas be about more than just the presents. to my children, it already is about more than getting presents. (to give them further credit, they really don't ask for or expect a whole lot in the the gift department. maybe it's more about me feeling like i have to figure out something they might like but don't need just so we can keep up with tradition.) i need to take a cue from them, to embrace those good parts they already cherish and encourage that.

in short, like in all other aspects of life, there needs to be balance.

i also realized my children's christmases are numbered and i'd better stay involved while i have the chance. making christmas about family time and togetherness happens now, while they are young and here. the older ones have already gotten that ingrained in their systems. i better make sure the younger ones do, too. it's going to require some exertion and careful planning from me for a few more years, and then it will all be gone.

so i backed off the quilts. i never did fix all the sloppy decorating. that can wait until next year. but i did start doing more of our normal holiday activities with the children and found a few extra "giving" activities to do. that means the quilts aren't going to be done. but christmas has been rescued, so it's okay. i still have quilts in various stages of completion that i'm going to gift them.

and i decided that next time i want to hand make any christmas gifts, it's all got to be done by thanksgiving. this leaves the season open to being together and making those memories we enjoy so much.

that said, last night, i got an unexpected chance to work on my sewing. the baby got sick, so i had to stay home from the extended family christmas party and watch her. i got about two hours of sewing done before she started throwing up, refocusing my attention elsewhere.

 i've added one little item to my making list (that i threw out): an apron for d3. she's had these two bright and crazy fat quarters in her sewing box for over a year or more. she wanted to make an apron out of them. when d4 brought home the cute red and aqua apron (on the left) from a party, i knew i had a quick and easy pattern for d3's apron. i'm going to make a skirt out of the pink fat quarter, use the polka dotted grosgrain ribbon for the ties, and use the floral to line the skirt and make the bodice. it should come together fairly quickly. i could have had it done last night, but realized that i should prewash it since it's clothing.

 while the fat quarters for the apron were washing, i got started on s1's wonky stacked coins quilt. with only 4 days left to Christmas, i did not think i was going to get to touch this one and was trying to figure out what to gift him. but it looks like i'll have a few blocks, at least, to put under the tree.

i'm using the same blue solid from s2's "bandwidth" quilt for the background fabric on this one. the prints are a variety of graphic blue, green, orange, and grey prints. i included a few of the prints he liked from his brother's quilt, too, so the two quilts will coordinate but not exactly match each other.

i have to say, this was really, really fun to put together! all the improv cutting and sewing is very cool. i'm not working from scraps, like the pattern in the book is designed for, so i've modified the methods a bit. i'll share them later when there's time.

as for the last and final project, i've been blanket stitching the flowers for d4's pillow sham whenever the girls bathe at night. some good ole splish splash stash time like in the beginning of my sewing days. i still have no real plan for the sham. i think it might be best to gift her the flowers as they are so i can consult with her over what to do with them.


it's the last weekend before Christmas. here's my final installation on the making Christmas list:

d1 - "plus a diamond" needs handbinding

s1 - wonky stacked coins blocks begun

d2 - "taite" worked on handbinding

s2 - "bandwidth" top completed, sandwiched, basted

d3 - "twirly" needs handbinding

d4 - flowered pillow sham some flower centers blanket stitched

d5 - "paris daydreams" sandwiched and basted

penny patch qal - a flimsy, on hold until all children's quilts done

the final link party for making Christmas is with Janine at rainbow hare.


  1. When we started to celebrate our Christmas as family I was so stressed to create the perfect Christmas for my child but it is getting better each year. I realized what is important. With little help from glass of wine I eventually enjoy it, lol.

  2. I do think we put too much pressure on ourselves. What you have achieved thus far physically and mentally is enough. Enjoy the time. Its precious. I lost my Dad last week and finding it very difficult to get into the Christmas spirit but do need to so for my three children. They are only young once. Merry Christmas.

  3. Merry Christmas Hydee, enjoy celebrating with your family. Hope your little one is better soon xx

  4. I agree wholeheartedly about cutting down on Christmas gifts. Hubby thinks I am a scrooge for it. It can be frustrating as I am a Christian and believe that Jesus is the reason for the season,but he is not saved. So I try my best to place this belief of mine in Ayden's heart whenever possible and pray that God will do the rest;)

    I made PJS for Ayden,bought him Christian Christmas story and some slippers and place it in a Christmas box. That is from Mama. Then comes the presents daddy bought,inlaws purchased. Ack! And where to put it all?! Who stinkin' knows:/

    All we can do is try and trust God with the rest Hydee! Handmade is always best. At least in my eyes:) Hope your family enjoys their mama's homemade gifts:):) I know they will!

    Merry Christmas to ya'll!!! Hope your youngest girlie feels

  5. back to herself soon! (sorry bumped the wrong button;)

  6. It is always hard to find the right balance. During this Christmas time it is so important to enjoy the time together rather than my to do list. My kids are older so when the moments arise I really try to seize them! Merry Christmas!

  7. You made great progress with your list. I am glad that you are not stressing over the gift giving and enjoying the time with your family :)

    Happy Holidays!

  8. For the last 4 years, my friends and family have received charity donations to Oxfam Unwrapped. The money I would have spent on their gifts buys instead chickens, piglets, a goat, a donkey, fresh drinking water, literacy classes, small business loans, etc, for people in need. My family doesn't need any more stuff, and the money better spent in the spirit of Christmas. I fit the donation item to the person in whose name it's bought, and they get a card to tell them what their gift is doing this year. I hope you and your family have a blessed and peaceful Christmas, and I look forward to reading more from you in the New Year.

  9. I'm sorry not to have commented earlier - we had storms and no internet and then lots of guests staying. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I think you did a great job on those quilts and you've got a long way towards finishing them. I like your plan to finish Christmas makes early next year to concentrate on other aspects of celebrating. I'm seriously thinking of making gifts gradually through the year because it does add a lot of pressure when there's so much to do in December and it starts to ruin the spirit of handmaking gifts. I've really enjoyed the posts you've linked up with Making Christmas and I'm looking forward to following your blog next year. Happy NewYear! Janine x

  10. Hydee, I read this post last week as my rear end was growing roots into the sofa (as it should be, at Christmas!). You are such a wise, wonderful momma, and I just know your family feels so blessed to have you doing Christmas for and with them.

    I got so caught up in my own Christmas making that Lucy and I didn't do a whole lot of Christmas-y stuff. Sure, we decorated the tree and made a couple batches of cookies and watched the Grinch, but not much beyond that. Next year I'm going to try to let the deadline stuff go and choose my family, like you did.

    Beautiful, beautiful post. I see from a few days later that you had a lovely handmade Christmas anyway--so, the best of everything came for you!


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