Friday, November 19, 2010

Handmade Christmas This Year.....

Riding on Grandpa's "Christmas Tractor".  Grandpa is
on the far left (with the cap), making sure
everyone is safely tucked in.  My two daughters
are the last two on the far right.
Tis the season to be JOLLY......, o.k. maybe jolly is a stretch!  As with many families this year finances are tight around our house, what was once a two income house is a one income house, so necessity forces creativity.  I have always been creative & crafty, but with a budget that doesn't even allow for purchasing craft supplies, what to do, what to do?

I started thinking about Christmas past and what I remember about Christmas while growing up.  Only a few Christmas's really stand out for me.  One of the most memorable Christmas's happened the year I was fourteen. 
I am the oldest of three kids, my brother is two years younger and my sister is seven years younger.  So that Christmas I was old enough to be aware of what was going on around our house.  I grew up in a 100% middle class home, my Mom stayed at home and my Dad worked as a laborer at Georgia Pacific, our local paper mill.  That year we had purchased a brand new house late in the Spring (my parents still live there today).  Two months after buying our house my Dad went on strike and in case you aren't aware of it, there is no unemployment if you are striking. My parent's savings was wiped out since they had just purchased a house.  The strike drug on to month one, then month two and finally around month three with no end to the strike in site, my Dad started to look for work and found a temporary job. His new job was making pole buildings and required travel and weeks away from home, he was making more money than the owner's son, but it was still only about 1/2 of what he made at the paper mill.  Not only did my parents have all of that to contend with, they also had me ~ a typical female teenager who was starting to make bad choices......

That Christmas we all knew that times were lean, but our house was full of secrets.  On the days he was home my Dad started building stuff and my mom started sewing.  My Dad built my sister a doll house using scrap materials that he had from our own new house.  The dollhouse had carpet in the living room that matched our house carpet and formica floors in the kitchen/bathroom that matched our kitchen counters.  He made little tiny furniture out of this and that.  The dollhouse boasted a living room, a kitchen and stairs to a second floor.  The second floor consisted of two bedrooms and a bathroom.  It was spectacular even to a 14 year old who thought she knew all. 

The dollhouse was for my sister.  My Dad also built her a wooden doll bed (it was stained to match our house stain).  My Mom & Dad bought her a Doll and my Mom sewed a bunch of baby doll clothes ~ I crocheted a blanket and booties.  That Christmas morning I could not begin to tell you what my brother or I got for gifts ~ all I can remember is the look upon my Sister's face when she saw what Santa brought her.

That Christmas stands out, not for what I got, but for how the family pulled together during the lean times and created memories.  Memories are what makes a holiday special, not the "stuff" that you get.  My sister does not have kids of her own so that dollhouse and doll bed has been passed down to my two daughters.  The dollhouse is a little worse for the wear and the doll bed is missing a spindle or two, but every time I see either one of them it brings a smile to my face.  My oldest daughter knows the story behind it (as she is privy to the Santa Clause secret), my youngest just thinks it is something neat that Grandpa made.  Someday she will be old enough for the truth and she will be able to share my memory.

This Christmas I want to create memories for my daughters, they will still have gifts under the tree, as we will get by as we always have.  Two years from now (or maybe less) they probably won't remember what they "got" for Christmas, but they will remember the little traditions that we have which include: driving to our local "Dutch" town and seeing the Christmas Parade, driving through the "seniors only" mobile home park to see their wonderful Christmas light displays, watching for, and seeing Santa arrive on the fire truck, making cookies and goodies with me and then delivering those to our neighbors and going for our nighttime tractor ride to see the Christmas lights.  The tractor is Grandpas, he decorates it with lights, tows a trailer loaded with hay bales and he takes all of the neighbor kids and parents out on a 1/2 hour ride to see all of the Christmas lights.  We sing carols (usually off key) and have hot chocolate and cookies when we are done.  Grandpa is my Dad, the same one who created all those memories so long ago.  He is still creating memories for all of us today.

Memories and family is what makes holidays and Christmas special around our house, I am not looking to start a new tradition, but will remain open if an opportunity presents itself.  I just want to make sure that my family remembers and participates in all the small traditions that make our Christmas's so special. 

So for this Christmas, not so much handmade as it is homemade ~ as in memories made in the home.  Home is where the heart is and my heart is, and always will be with my family.
The Christmas Tractor. Thanks Dad, I Love You!

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