The storms abated and we were treated to a calm, at times starlit Long Dance, though oddly not peaceful. The energy was definitely a little swirly and scattered. Perhaps that was a sign of the shift that may have occurred...who knows.
No matter, it was a fun night and now we're in the busy midst of Christmas preparations; packing, cleaning, baking, measuring out presents.
Heather was asking on her log a little while back what her readers did for presents. Shop local, mall, make, or not participate at all?
It got me thinking about how our family's Christmas gift tradition, or actually gift tradition in general has shaped up (though I didn't get around to actually answering in the comments, sorry Heather.)...
C. and I don't really much care for official celebrations, it seems. Once I got to thinking about it, I actually discovered that we're shockingly cavalier about gift-giving on special occasions. Neither of us really remembers exactly the dates of our first meeting, first kiss, or well, either of our two wedding anniversaries. We don't celebrate these dates, and definitely do not do anything romantic and teddybear packed on Valentine's day. We typically don't give gifts on birthdays and frankly, not that often on Christmas either.
However, that doesn't mean that we don't give each other gifts. We do. All the time.
When one of us goes off Island without the other, we typically bring home Thai-food take-out, something that 's a real treat out here. We get each other things from the Dump, the thrift store, the woods. In fact, now that I think about it, rarely a couple of weeks go by without one of us walking in through the door and saying "I got you a present!" Sometimes it's a grapefruit from the store, sometimes it's jewelry, or glue, or a cool stick, sometimes something big and ostentatious.
The point is, after a few years of marriage I feel hardly any pressure around this otherwise pressure-filled season to get my husband the gift that really makes it clear how much I love him.
This season though, the few gifts we've received have been great, perfect, in fact. They're just what we wanted and what we're giving to others. Our friends gave us (and I imagined many other friends) homemade granola (and a candy cane; ). My secret Solstice gift was some home mixed tea and an infuser.
Food is an awesome gift. Everyone eats food and something like granola is easy to make in big batches and most people have their own special recipe, so even if the person you're gifting it to makes their own, it's not going to be the same. Like our friend's granola, turns out, is way better than mine. Such a good gift. Spiced vinegars, roasted nuts, or pumpkin seeds, dried berries, jams, elixirs, ketchup, mustard, teas, spices...the list of foodstuffs you could gift is endless and I guarantee you that their recipients will be thrilled.
Handmade gifts are another sure hit, but a lot more work in some ways. It takes time to make a number of unique, beautiful hand-wrought things, but we make giftable foodstuffs often and it's not that much more of a bother to take the operation larger scale. This year for instance, we made a bunch of mustard for gifts, along with spices and some other foodstuffs, which I shall not mention just in case some of the recipients happen to read this entry.
Another gift that I was frankly thrilled to bits about was that a friend got me a set of scraping spatulas. I've been bitching about losing my only one (which was a Solstice gift too) for months, but I only ever remember that I need them when I need them, not when I'm in the store. It's a really simple every day thing that I could have bought for myself, but it made me so happy that my friend remembered that was what I needed and got them for me. I've been saying for a while that really the only things I need are super simple things like a good whisk, or hair ties and wouldn't it be nice if whoever felt like they had to get me present got me one of those things? Then I got my spatulas. Perfect gift? Yes.
Speaking of perfect gifts though, we did end up giving each other Solstice presents this year and they were both handmade and super special. At the behest of our carver friend, I made C. a pouch to keep a Tlingit chief's Raven rattle he carved in. No biggie right? Well except that I made it out of a deer hide I tanned with my own two hands this summer, lined it with scraps of a Pendleton blanket and added some Sami-style felt accents.
So naturally, after I presented C. with this pouch, he felt compelled to make me something special. Having no gift exchange tradition, I didn't really expect that, so I lo and behold if I wasn't just as surprised when he gifted me with this little medicine pouch the next day. It's also made from brain-tanned buckskin and has a little accent of red felt and an antler button.
While this years presents have been perfect and plentiful, I'd be just as happy without any, so long as I'm surrounded by people who give their love freely. So if you're feeling any last minute gift pressure, just remember that gifts are sweet, but nice words and hugs are sweeter.
Merry Christmas Everyone! Hauskaa Joulua! All my love!
Ps. Finnish Christmas is tomorrow and we'll be celebrating with my family here and then we'll be off for our celebration with C.'s family, so I'll see you on the other side.
Pps. Don't forget to get in on your Solstice gift giveaway.