The Art of Gift Giving
When it comes time to think of a gift for an occasion, do you think of knitting something first off? I had done this earlier, planning to make a felted yoga bag, since Amy is a yoga teacher... however, it is WAY too hot to work with that much wool (45 inches long before felting), so I have decided that would make a better Christmas gift.
My husband comes from a medium-sized family, and gift-giving, although done, has taken some awkward turns in recent years. We decided to draw names at Christmas so that the expense wouldn't be so great; that lasted awhile, then the push was to give gifts to the children only. But then many of them began to reach adulthood, so we have returned to a name drawing, including the adult children. My one brother-in-law, also inducted into this family by marriage, expressed some frustration last Thanksgiving while this was being debated, saying "It's just not that hard to get any one of you a gift!". I had to agree. I can watch someone for a while, discover what colors they wear the most, what their likes and dislikes around food are, what their favorite hobbies and activities are, and end up picking a gift that will mostly be appreciated and/or put to use. Only occasionally will this match be something knitted, although knitting a gift gives me more pleasure in the making than selecting something from a store or website. I have to think of the receiver more than myself, though, so I try to let them guide me to the proper match, keeping in mind that there are items I won't buy out of my own belief system.
I can easily knit for one son, who will take any and every "beanie" that I make for his dear little head, however, it gives me the most pleasure every time he pulls out his digital camera to snap a photo when we all get together, because that gift was my inspired idea, and has gotten the most use of any item I have given him over the years (except, maybe, shoes!). I can't do as well coming up with a knitted gift for my other family members... although picking something for a fellow knitter or quilter is no sweat, and also great fun!
It is the inspired gift, the one that brings the thrilled, "This is just what I wanted" response, that we are seeking in gift-giving. We want to bring joy to the other person, and improve their life in some small way. Some of the gifts I have received and ended up cherishing the most have been small, everyday items that were exceedingly beautiful, and that I could pick up and put to use frequently. Some were immensely practical; my husband's first Valentine gift to me was a double-bit axe, that I used for several winters while a single mom trying to keep my cabin warm with only wood heat. I treasured that axe and the concern for me behind the giving of it.
This afternoon I filled one of my monthly shifts at our crafts coop, where there is a very cute cartoon placed on the counter... a mother is berating her teen-aged daughter, saying "I spent seven months secretly quilting you a prom dress, and all you can say is 'Um...'". You can envision for yourself a patchwork, quilted dress with puffed sleeves on a teenaged girl with pierced nose and eyebrow. Have you had the misfortune to spend hours creating something that was poorly received?
I hope you will find yourself pondering this subject as well in the next few days, and that you take the time to share your thoughts with me.