Sunday, December 23, 2018

Our Christmas Baskets, Platters, Bags, And Tins Always Bring Back Memories

Yesterday, Lisa and I spent about 12 hours in the kitchen. It was the big and final Christmas Day Baking. After a good night's sleep, some strong Columbian Coffee, and spending time with our kids, we began the process of putting together platters, bags, tins, and our annual Christmas Baskets for our neighbor friends who have become family.

These Christmas Baskets are filled with baked goods, handcrafted items, and other stuff. We've been doing this since 2013.

Year after year, during the hours it takes us to put together the baskets and boxes and tins and platters, a memory surfaces from decades ago when I was a kid and young teen.

To set the stage a bit...

We always spend Christmas Eve with my Father's side of the family. Christmas Day was spent with my Mother's side.

Polar opposites.

My Father's side of the family was very materialistic. They had money and let it be known. Christmas Eve was more of a competition than anything. Who brought the most exquisite food. Who gave the most elaborate gifts. Who provided the most expensive bottle of liquor. Who was dressed the best. Etc.

My Mother's side of the family was very simple. They had money, but that didn't deter them from embracing the simplicity of the Christmas season. The meal was the same year after year and something we looked forward to. Gifts were thoughtful and useful. We didn't have to dress in our best attire. There were no fancy beverages.

During those years, my Mother embraced her creativity. She quilted. Made gorgeous detailed salt dough ornaments. Created beautiful quilted wall hangings. Did needlework. Very talented.

One year, she gave a few handcrafted gifts to various members on my Father's side of the family on Christmas Eve. One of the recipients was my grandmother. My Mother made her a quilted wall hanging that she worked on for months.

She did the same for her side of the family on Christmas Day.

A few years later, my Father's parents were going through the items in their basement and wanted to get rid of some junk. They gave several boxes to my parents. In one of the boxes was the quilted wall hanging my Mother had made them. They had never hung it up.

I remember how hurt my Mother was because of that. She worked so hard on the handcrafted items she gave.

That's what I think about each and every year that we make handcrafted gifts and baked goods for our Christmas Baskets.

Thankfully, our neighbors who have become family appreciate what we do and make. And, on the flip side, we adore handcrafted gifts as well.

After the last platter and Christmas Basket was made, our table was filled.

The baskets are gorgeous. 

The photo does not do the final project justice.

Lisa delivered most everything today.

Lots of happy faces and gratitude.

Yeah, it's a lot of work, but it's worth every minute.

We have one more basket to deliver tomorrow along with a couple of tins filled with sweet treats.

We take pride in what we make and bake.

It's all a labor of love.

Too often, people tend to focus on the store bought items. Christmas has become too commercialized.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with buying store bought gifts. We bought a few that we put a lot of thought into.

However, not everything has to be store bought and in large quantities.

One of the best conversations that we had over the Christmas season happened last week when we took Sweet Mama, who is in her 80's, to the mall and out to lunch.

She talked about how simple Christmas was when she was growing up. Stockings were filled with fruit, nuts, and candy. Most of the gifts were handmade. The focus wasn't on what was under the tree on Christmas morning. Kids didn't show up with their hands extended in "give me give me give me" mode.

Lisa and I chimed in as well.

Although Lisa and I can't turn back time and put a halt to the commercialization or people going into debt this time of year, we can embrace those memories.

We can honor those memories year after year with our baked goods and handcrafted gifts.

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