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quiet and meaning and two fairy dolls

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.

(i was interviewed for an article in usa today about giving handmade for the holidays.  you can read the article here.)

Reader Comments (12)

This is just beautiful and gives me a happy, peaceful feeling. Just as the holidays should be. I always visit here and leave thinking: Yes, exactly. What she said.

I'm glad you had a wonderful celebration.
December 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
This is just so well said. It was the perfect post to finish up a beautiful holiday and to follow a bit of quiet in this space. Perfect.

And again, I am so thrilled that b and l are loving the dolls ... it makes me just full to the brim. What an amazing gift for me, to be able to create something for someone else to bring them joy.

December 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGrace
this is really beautiful. i have to tell you that ever since i moved out of my parents house i've had a bit of trouble really getting into the spirit of hanukkah, unless i'm back visiting them. most of my friends now and my boyfriend are not jewish and it's often hard to really get into the spirit when it's just me. but your beautiful posts have really helped me remember what it's all about and know that these feelings will carry on until next year. thank you so much.
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjulia
I was so absolutely touched by what you wrote. It is what I want for my family, myself...the world in general and I am striving toward it.

Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
such a good post. we have been doing the hand made thing for quite a number of years for my husband's family and it brings so much more meaning to it all.

I can't agree with you more!ooh! an interview? wowzers.

be well friend!
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commenternessie
as i was wrapping presents last night, it felt so good to wrap up what i have been working on for the past couple of months. i hope to continue (and expand!) the tradition.

thanks for sharing your beauty with us!
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterani
Em,I've missed your posts for the last week. Glad again to know what's stewing for you--how is it that we talk nearly every day and I rely on your posts for that!!? Funny, this idea of beauty and spreading it around... All the winter holidays, essentially, are about staving off the darkness with light. The candles, the lights on the trees, etc. And you've upped the ante on these time honored traditions. In addition to light, you've brought more intention to the use of beauty as an antidote to a season when the world is dressed in more gray than usual, and when we all need a bit more of a lift. Thanks for your post, and thanks also for your intention and the wonderful accompanying reminder to see and spread beauty.Peter
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPeter
so well said, emily. the dolls are simply lovely - such a sweet and meaning-filled gift for your babes.
December 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercloth.paper.string
Your words are beatiful - oh and so are those dolls and I think you did a stellar job on their clothes!
December 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKim
Simple clothes? Let me show you some simple clothes... Really, those are gorgeous -

And what are you doing talking to USA today anyway? That's pretty cool! And for such a great "cause" as a handmade holiday.

We're striving over here but some of my family (bea) have seen the dark side (stuffed animals) and aren't coming back easily (no handmade simpletons for her no way no how)...

:-) Glad you had a wonderful Hannukah - it sure sounded lovely. Have yet to make the latkes.
December 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
What a beautiful post, I could not agree with what you are saying more!! Your fairy dolls are so amazing, the hair is great! We just received our sweet little boy dolls in the mail from Grace, she is super super talented, our dolls are gorgeous as well! Enjoy your "afterglow" of the holiday!
December 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
they are so kute were can i get one??plz let me know @ my email crystal_kutie@yahoo.com
September 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkutie13

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