i've been quiet here this last week. i didn't plan to be, but it happened.
it might be because i've been basking in the afterglow of a glorious holiday. it might be the feeling of relief at having the frenzy of the holiday season (mostly) behind me. it might be the chill in the air, or the promise of snow that hasn't yet materialized. it might be the anticipation i always feel as we enter this last week before winter vacation. maybe it's the approaching solstice. regardless, it's a peaceful, calm quiet and i'm enjoying it thoroughly.
hanukkah ended last wednesday. it was absolutely the best hanukkah i can remember. there was such a sense of celebration, of family, of tradition, of enjoyment throughout the festival. each night brought beauty and light into our lives. we had dinners with family (though we missed our weekend with my brother and his family because of some strep throat around these parts - we'll be visiting and exchanging gifts next weekend instead), dinners with friends. b. learned to strike a match, l. held the helping-candle and lit the other candles herself. and the small amount of gift exchanging was filled to overflowing with meaning because our gifts were thoughtfully made, mindfully purchased, consciously wrapped, lovingly given.
i can not express how much i appreciated the absence of consumerism from our holiday celebration this year. not having to visit the mall, spend hours online browsing and purchasing and paying for shipping, not feeling the familiar ache at the excess of toys and packaging, not feeling guilt at bringing more and more and more into our home, into our lives. for me (and i mean this only as it relates to me and my family - i respect and appreciate each and every person's choice in this regard. truly.), the absence of the commercial made space for meaning in my holiday celebration.
and, too, the beauty of making our own gifts and purchasing handmade brought even more significance to my celebration. the care that went into the gifts i made. the intention that went into choosing which gifts to purchase. and the pleasure at knowing that my holiday shopping dollars went directly to artists - some of whom i have come to know and like a great deal - made the gifts that i purchased even more special.
i've been bursting at the seams to share one particular story.
when we decided to give handmade for hanukkah, and even before, we thought long and hard about what to give the kids. i can't tell you exactly how this came to be - it was one of those standing-in-the-shower moments. you know those? when you're standing in the shower and it just comes to you? well, my kids had admired some fairy dolls in a catalog a few months back, and i had seen grace's amazing dolls on her blog, and i was standing in the shower one fall day, and boom.
because i needed them so early for hanukkah, and because grace has so many dolls to make at the moment, i offered to make the clothes. because my sewing tends toward the basic, and because our preferred attire is generally simple, the fairies are dressed simply. they're wearing cozy cotton flannels in colors to match their hair, with tiny wool felt leaves for embellishment.
the dolls are extraordinary. my children were delighted.
we gave the dolls to the children on the last night of hanukkah, accompanied by a letter from our own special fairy instructing b. and l. in the proper care of fairy babies. the dolls have been at the breakfast table every morning since, and i've received specific instructions for their care while the children are at school. did i mention that they were delighted? and i was, too. i am. (thank you, grace. from the bottom of my heart.)
this i have come to believe with every fiber of my being: when i give handmade i spread beauty through the world by introducing something precious into the life of another, by supporting an artist directly and thus enabling her or him to continue to create, and by behaving in a way that reflects the kind of world i want to live in. this season, i felt that beauty reflected back at me. glorious, i tell you.
i do still have a bit of gift giving ahead of me. our beloved babysitter, out of town family, a few friends. and i've got a little something special planned for the kids at the solstice. but most of all, this week, i'm planning to enjoy the calm, to step outside into the chilly december air, and to breathe.
i hope you're finding some time in this busy season for the same.