Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

December 7, 2008

A handmade tradition

When A~ and I got together, it seems everything went wrong. We were both separated from previous marriages, had three kids living with us and another in WA state. I had had to leave my job of the last three years and we lived in a home that my father owned that I moved into because the series of previous tenants had trashed the place. It was the home that my father had grown up in. I was able to get some work here and there, some handyman stuff on the side and we made ends meet but not without a lot of goodwill I assure you. When December started getting closer and we tried to scrape together what we could for our kids there just wasn't a lot to scrape. We painted white an old display shelf from a 7-11 store that had sides that were shaped like beer bottles to make into a "toy storage shelf", picked up some small stuff at a dollar store, some garage sale clothes and not much more.

The thing the boys were most into at that time was Hercules (The cartoon movie). They would make almost anything into a sword and do battle with Hades and the Titans for hours it seemed. I had some scrap pieces of plywood laying around that year as well as some carpet that we had had to tear out of a back room. I cut the plywood, fastened some strips of carpet onto the back and painted them white with their initial on the front. Now, they had shields to protect them in their quests. I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but I was kind of embarrassed that year when the boys woke up to our little Christmas. There was really so little for them to open, but they didn't see it that way. In their innocence they cheered and played and loved everything! Amber and I sat on our bed - we didn't even have a usable bedroom, for our first year together we had a fold out couch from the thrift store in the living room - and watched them checking everything out and playing with it all. They loved the shields. They never even asked until much later if we had made them.

Eventually I got good work, we could afford more and our meager Christmas's grew. A couple of years ago, just after moving to our new home, A~ and I were looking through old pictures with the boys and talking about that first Christmas together. It made me think, would they still...could they still... enjoy something handmade? I decided it couldn't hurt, and decided to make them swords with the leftover oak flooring we had left from out kitchen floors.Those swords became a labor of love four years ago, that's one up above. They loved them, and still play with them very regularly (Even the thirteen year old, but don't tell anyone...) Then next year I did it again, with knives for them. I know they're all weapons but hey, these are boys after all, it is what it is. I wasn't sure after two years whether to keep it up. Our oldest was nearing 13 and I hadn't heard a word about me making anything, until about a month before Christmas that is. While we were hanging decorations, shortly after Thanksgiving, one of the boys mentioned that they needed to leave space in the tree for Dad. Let me explain, I always placed the things I had made IN the tree, here and there. Well I had my cue, it was time to get moving. I came up with the bow and again, they loved them.

So, what's a dad to do? How can I stop now? It seems that somehow along the way, I started a tradition. Some little piece of that first meager Christmas got held over. This year, it's rubber band guns. They have wanted them for years, albeit only when they see them at fairs and festivals for $10.00 a piece, but nonetheless, they've wanted them and this is the year!Enter Santa's workshop! Files and rasps, saws and vices, all the tools of a handmade tradition. I try to think of something for them that I can make with things I already have on hand. I think in some ways it helps to remind me of that first year when that was all I had at all! These will be loved, of that I have no doubt, and even if they grow out of them in a year I know they'll remember them long after Wii's or anything else they could get.
So every night I spend the evening in the workshop. I get lost in the work, imagining how they'll ambush each other on the stairs and have major battles in the backyard or maybe just some tin can target practice. I remember the embarrassment I had felt that first year and honestly I am so so thankful for it now. It has become a year that I look back to fondly every year; one of my favorites. That year I learned a lesson that I fear so many people have missed through no fault of their own, and that is the power of connection. I am connected to these toys. My love and my caring are embedded deep in them and the boys will get to have that with them forever.

This year we're all a little more stretched than we've probably been in years. Many of our friends and family are out of work and are wondering "What kind of Christmas will it be?" Take a minute if you can, maybe a few a night, and try making something this year for someone you love. It doesn't have to be elaborate, it might just be a card, but it will have that connection. That, more than anything, is what I think we all really want the most. Whether we know it or not.

Peace to you all.


Margaret's Ramblings said...

These boys will always remember and love the toys you have made them but more importantly they will remember the love that went into them. Keep the tradition going and it won't be long before it will be grandchildren who willl receive your craftwork - maybe a dollshouse, you never know.

Anonymous said...

It is way cool that you are making the children gifts they have admired for so long!!!! Good job!tp

Chicago Mike said...

My parents went through some rough times, and they made me a number of gifts over the years (including a Hoth battlescape that was WAY better than anything they sold in stores) and I remember every one of those gifts.

One of them was a shooting vest (to go with my BB gun) that my mother made. It was denim, flannel, and love. I remember how heartbroken I was when I found out that when I went away to college my mom repurposed it to part of a dog bed. :D

Sue said...

The only thing I have saved from my childhood is a dollhouse my grandfather built for me. My daughters love it and actually did a complete renovation on it last year (new carpet, tile floor, roof, etc). If he had bought it from the store I doubt I would've saved it for the past 40 years. He was an overworked country doctor and he took the time to build a dollhouse, by hand, for his only grand-daughter. Yes, I'd say your kids will remember the toys you made them.

ilex said...

What a fun dad you are. Your boys will always remember these presents, and hopefully pass on the tradition to their own kids. Heck, they might even pass on the very presents that grandpa made, way back when.

Most of the gifts I'm giving this year are handmade. Some folks are getting pickles, others are getting handknitted items- and one knitter is getting handspun yarn. And I already know we're all getting handknit socks from my mother-in-law. Ohh, handknit socks are divine.

Shellie said...

Of all the gifts I've ever received, I love homemade gifts the best. It truly shows the receiver how much you really care. You aren't just throwing money at them to make them happy and for that, they'll be eternally grateful and grounded. Your children will grow up to be fantastic fathers and I'm sure your tradition of handcrafted toys will carry on!

Happy Holidays from ours to yours. :)

Andrew Stone said...

That is a wonderful story. I have a son and our first child for the first time this Christmas and I look forward to all the things that I am going to make for and show him.

My father never made many things for me, but my grandfather did. I have every single one of them still today. A few are a little worse for the wear, but others I will pass down to my boy.

On a side note, I would like to feature your blog in a post in my blog. Do you mind? I have started a feature called Monday's in the garden.

Dessa Wolf said...

What a wonderful post about a very special family tradition.

P~ said...

First off, I have to say I'm so glad to see some comments from a few new faces. I so enjoy getting to visit and explore all of your blogs too.
Anyone else notice a trend here? Quite a lot of us that gravitate to this type of community have had so many similar experiences. I didn't mention it, but should have, that my father was big on doing this as well. He didn't necessarily make gifts for me, but I do remember home movies of him refinishing my first red two wheeler bike when I was just a little guy. He's a great teacher and role model for me still.

icull said...

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