Saturday, December 5, 2015

Making Christmas Memories

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  I sure did!  I have a relatively small family, and all of them live near me.  My house is always where we celebrate Thanksgiving so I had the crew here for a very Traditional with a capital "T" Thanksgiving dinner. Tradition is big in my family.

This year, because I'm retired now, I thought I'd be all finished decorating my house for Christmas by now - and I'm not. But I'm getting ready to tackle that today.  I love getting the traditional (there I go again with tradition!) decorations out and arranged and seeing my house look so full of holiday spirit.

Both my husband and I still have the handmade Christmas stockings from our childhoods. They are definitely showing their age but are a tangible link to our memories and very valuable to us.  My children have Christmas stocking made by their grandmother, who isn't with us anymore.  I know how special those stockings are to them.  Christmas decorating for me is about creating things that are those tangible links to our memories. Things my kids will remember for the rest of their lives.


 I made this pine cone wreath for my hurricane vase candle with a wreath form from Michael's, some sphagnum moss, and cones from my yard. The hurricane vase and candle came from Pier One.

This Christmas banner was a "find" in an antique store!  I love that I'm reusing something that had been part of the love in someone else's home once upon a time.  And I love how it looks on my mantel, also an antique store discovery.  The mantel is from Britain and was dated by the antique store owner to probably late 1920s.

I don't love the part of Christmas decorating that involves boxes needing to be pulled out of the back of the storage room.  I think they migrate during the summer.  I always think I've put them where they'll be easier to get to next year. But when I go to get them, they're always behind the coolers and the suitcases and all of the other stuff we've used since last Christmas.

Another thing I don't like about Christmas is the waste.  The paper especially.  It  tortures me to buy a bunch of wrapping paper, wrap the gifts one day and then throw away the paper as soon as it's ripped off of the gifts the next day.  Of course we recycle paper in my house! But still.  It just seemed like such an awful waste.  So one year, I decided to do something about that, and to make Christmas at my house a little bit more environmentally friendly.

I bought a ton of Christmas fabric on sale.  Then I spent the week between Christmas and New Year's sewing gift bags.  I had no idea how to do it when I first got the idea, but I found a tutorial on YouTube and got to work.  I am not a person who sews for entertainment.  I sew for function only. I promise you, I'm not a really competent sewer.  If I can do these gift bags, ANYBODY who has the slightest idea how to use a sewing machine can do it.

Here's what a gift bag looks like laid flat:

And here's what it looks like with the drawstring (made from ribbon) pulled.

It was kind of tough to make them all and put them away for a year.  But the following year, I spent SO much less time wrapping gifts!  I just popped gifts into gift bags and put them under the tree. The best part though, was the reduction in the wrapping paper waste at my house that year and the ease of cleaning up after the Christmas morning gift exchange.  Easy and environmentally friendly!  Tough to beat that combination!

I continue to make a few new gift bags every year, hoping to arrive at a point where I have enough to be able to not buy wrapping paper at all.  I'm at the point where a big roll of gift wrap lasts me several years.  Last year, when I felt a little nostalgia at seeing the different gift bags sewn each year, it occurred to me that perhaps someday my own children will be using these same bags under their Christmas tree as part of their own Christmas traditions.  I like doing something that makes Christmas a little more environmentally friendly now, and perhaps someday will give my children something they'll cherish as a link to their childhood home and Christmases past.

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