the CD and the atlas: lessons learned in the lead up to Christmas

My Grandpa lives by the sea. We went to visit yesterday and spent a few hours with him, eating sandwiches and drinking coffee brewed on his camp stove in the afternoon sun.

He’s in the process of moving house and let me choose some of his books to take home. One is an old atlas with the inscription: “To Mary with love from Graeme Xmas 1960.” A message from my Grandpa to my Grandmother.

We have been looking through its softly worn pages today. In the lead up to Christmas while my heart is  beating faster and faster with increasing overwhelm, I can’t help but reflect on this little gift with wonderment. Imagine, opening up a present from your partner on Christmas morning to find a lovely book with a short message in the front. I like to think it was wrapped brown paper, and perhaps tied with white string. It is this kind of simplicity and thoughtfulness that I yearn for in my every day life. We are overcome with monstrous loud flashy messages and it is easy forget that we don’t need to buy each other and our children bigger and better things in order for them to be happy and healthy and cherished and loved.

At birthdays and Christmas I stick to this motto from Jodi Wilson:

something I want, something I need

something to wear, something to read

Even still it is easy to get distracted and carried away and panicky and compare-y. We have to stop doing this.

Gramps also offered me some CDs of classical music. “Ok,” I said, “but can I have one that isn’t frantic. One that I could listen to on a Sunday afternoon. Something calming. No violins?”

“Hmm. Well that isn’t how I approach music at all.” he replied.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I walk over to my CDs. I think of one I’d like to listen to. I put it on, then I sit down on the couch and I listen to it. That is how to engage with a piece of music. If it’s on in the background it might as well be anything.”

“Ok. But what if you’re me and you’ve got three screaming children and you have to cook dinner and fold the washing and feed the dog and it’s 1pm and you want to put your pyjamas on and you’re not really thinking about developing a relationship with a piece of music but you would like something to listen to… in the background?”

He stared at me for a moment, laughed, then a few minutes later handed me this, and we listened to it in the car on the way home.

The CD and the atlas. I’ve been thinking about them both since yesterday. The purity and the restraint and the slow and the time. I am so rushed. Even when I try to slow down, there are so many external things wanting my attention. Children, animals, schedules imposed on me and so many rules. Rules! So many!

It’s been a timely and gentle reminder. Now when I look at my Christmas list, I am not looking at things to add, but places I can pare down, things that I can make, things that I can replicate to create a bit of flow, areas that I was perhaps getting a little carried away (do the girls really need another story CD? What will really make them happy on Christmas morning?) I think it’s important to remember that the presents we buy and/or make for our kids are just the beginning for most families on Christmas Day. For many, including us, there will be a number of shared meals that day, and many thoughtful gifts and presents to open. To keep it simple and quiet in the morning at home, we are actually doing our children a favour and allowing them to enjoy the excitement ahead.

Will you start your Christmas morning slow and steady this year? Do you have many people and engagements to whiz around to during the day?

Advertisements

it’s that time again…

IMG_5598 IMG_5601

I always promise myself that I will be organised at Christmas time, that I won’t be scrambling around in a mad rush and I won’t be forced into buying things that compromise my values because I’ve run out of time! Alas, I am rather behind schedule and my list of things to make is gigantic… we are half way through November and shit is getting real in my sewing room.

I am quite the overachiever and apparently love nothing more than a late night sew-fest and the pressure of doing things at the last minute. As much as I hate it, I can’t seem to shake my ways. Oh well.

I’ve talked so many times before about buying nothing new at Christmas and supporting handmade and so on and so on. Apart from the fact that a Christmas-crazed shopping centre is my absolute worst nightmare, I love the feeling of really thinking about presents and putting the effort into cutting and sewing and making and giving something genuinely unique. I’m not sure if the people on the receiving end of my gifts feel this way… but it’s the thought that counts, right? This year I am going about Christmas in my usual fashion, however we are buying a couple of things for the girls – a wooden kitchen, a bike for Birdie and maybe a scooter for the Pixie. Unfortunately I can’t make these things. I did try to purchase the wooden kitchen secondhand but have had trouble finding what I am looking for. Two years ago we gave the girls a beautiful waldorf style doll’s house and I was lucky enough to find this on my local buy swap and sell site! So if you keep an eye out – you do find.

This year I’ve been making star garlands, pictured above, little shorts, and crocheted tiaras mainly. Most of the little folk in our circles will be receiving variations of these this Christmas. I’m also planning on making a dress each for Birdie and Pix, and something else… I haven’t fleshed out the list properly yet. I make all my family granola every year so will also be continuing with that tradition.

This is also my first year to make teacher gifts now that Birdie is at kinder! I am yet to decide what to do for our teacher folk, I’m thinking granola or a star garland. Any tips?

What are you making? Are you a mad shopper at Christmas? Do you write lists? How do you keep the madness at bay?

 

 

On Wanting

It’s hard not to want things. Want, want, want. It’s a horrible feeling, to be left, wanting. Especially at this time of year when shops are screaming at you, the television is reminding you of all the things you need, people around you are talking about all the things they are buying, and Christmas is looming. I have been trying desperately to avoid spending money on things, particularly at this hectic time of year when it would be much quicker for me to run out to the shops or order things online. There are so many wonderful and beautiful gifts out there, the thought of it is overwhelming.

However, a while ago I decided to have a Buy Nothing New Christmas. At that point I didn’t even have a sewing machine… it’s crazy what happens when you put something out to the universe. I now have a couple of sewing machines, a weekly sewing circle with other beautiful crafty women from my family, an enormous collection of vintage and thrifted fabric, and a growing pile of things I have made or modified.

A skirt - my Gran drew me the pattern!

Laptop cover made from an old woollen jumper which I felted

Cutlery roll - idea from Little Eco Footprints

Baby's bib - idea from The Crafty Minx

Boy's bib

Op shop dress - was size 18 with sleeves...!

I am slowly learning how to use the machine and thread the needle and fix mistakes (many) and so on. My workspace is also all set up – albeit on the kitchen table, will have to do something about this…

I was at the op shop the other day and saw a very cute medium sized 1970’s table for $15. I have since been having visions of this table set up with my sewing machine in our spare room in front of the window where the spare bed currently is. I have also been imagining the bed packed up underneath the house… And a vase with fresh flowers on the table… And people sleeping in our lounge room when they come to stay… And me with a cup of tea at said table sewing harmoniously in the mint green room while Baby is sleeping… I have not mentioned any of this to Prince Charming as yet…

I have also been thinking about the amount of things we are constantly buying, and the impact this has on both our purses and the environment. I’ve been finding much inspiration online at blogs such as Ecomilf and Down to Earth which has left me considering extending my Buy Nothing New Christmas to a Buy Nothing New 2011 (at least the first 6 months)… I am still thinking about the logistics of this and am feeling a little apprehensive… will keep you posted!