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Gift-making Season


Yesterday I had nothing particular on the schedule in an itemized, spelled-out way, and it's a good thing, too, because as it turns out Annie had started her present-making fest and needed my help. Which consumed the rest of the day.

On a whim she'd decided to make colorful pillowcases for the people on her list. We'd picked out some wonderful Hoffman cotton batik prints a couple of months ago and Annie had planned to borrow my sewing machine, figuring she could sew them up without much problem. Unfortunately, she isn't very experienced at the small, sometimes trying details of adjusting the thread tension (my machine has been temperamental lately) or changing and rethreading the bobbins.

So it became a team project, which was cool if time-consuming. Annie usually has a tight schedule and something to run off to; this time she didn't, and we talked a little, took turns sewing and pinning, made a trip out for fabric for two additional pillow cases, stopped for frozen yogurt, etc. It was interesting watching her sit working at the machine, something I've done so much of (and at times made a living from) over the years. Makes you have those long-term thoughts about passing your skills and knowledge on to the next generation, etc. It was a nice time--not as memorable in the long run as the time we all had to push the Volvo for blocks after it had died on a road in the mountains, but nice in a quiet, low-key kind of way.

This morning I finished addressing all my Christmas cards and am now looking at a session of cookie making (I have this idea to make a cookie tree--that is, a small tree decorated with cookies hung like ornaments, to be brought out on Christmas eve) and a reassessment of the gifts I have yet to prepare for the other side of the family, who we'll see on Christmas morning. We stopped the official gift exchange years ago, though most people do bring gifts of some sort. The nice thing is that it's completely left up to the giver as to how elaborate--or not--to get, or whether to give anything at all. So in a way it's a freer spirit that rules--finding something someone would like rather than 'having to' get gifts.

Usually I make things--cards or calendars or whatever with my own art on them. I'm still debating what to do for some of the families, but my favorite gift to give will undoubtedly be the picture of which a detail is shown above. The youngest sibling in the family finally had a daughter last year and has periodically e-mailed us pictures of her--ungainly, huge files that are, at the same time, just perfect for tinkering with. One such shot had Maya asleep against her mother's shoulder. It seemed to have such a peaceful universality to it that I opened it in Photoshop, took away all the background clutter so that only my sister-in-law and the baby remained, and filtered it with Diffuse Glow. And voila--it came out as a rather nice piece, I think.

Well, on to the cookies. I'm thinking almond-flavored spritz and maybe some of those great molasses cookies my Dad used to love so much. Perhaps a celebration of memories as well as a time of baking.

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