Not Deferential Enough: The myth of the homemade gifts

Posted Friday, November 23, 2018 in Opinion

Not Deferential Enough: The myth of the homemade gifts

by Gina Hamilton

So, it's that time of year again, down at Turning Tide Cottage, when we send out a dozen Yule parcels to those near and dear who happen to be far flung. We pride ourselves on our homemade ingenuity -- our dearest receive wild blueberry jam, made for them in the summer; they receive cookies and cakes, made much more recently, fear not, dear ones,  they receive coffee hand-roasted by my husband, they receive beeswax candles, and they receive any other small item we happened to make or find that we thought they might appreciate.

They also get a sprig of holly, since not a one of them lives in a climate where holly is a regularly occurring shrub, and if we were really energetic that year, they might get a jar of tomato sauce or a bottle of hot sauce, all fit neatly into the "if it fits, it ships" packages from the post office, still at $14 a pop, but the postage is the most expensive bit. One year they got pre-planted paper-white narcissis. If there had been a special event, during the year, such as a wedding or a new home or a 25th anniversary, they'd get a nice pair of pillow cases, thoughtfully embroidered, with some sort of silver doo-dad or other. They might get a nice jar of hand cream or body lotion scented with essential oils or some sort of tincture to help with some known medical issue. Dried herbs or flowers might find their way across  the country; Sweet Annie strewing herbs might be wrapped in a  piece of beeswax. If I am particularly energetic, there might even be homemade candies.

But do they use it? Eat it? Burn the candles? With few exceptions, we don't know.

This year, my energy level is lower than usual; I am suffering from a back injury that will make it difficult to stand long enough to make the three types cookies I plan to bake and the candles I need to pour.  Assuming I can buy small jars for body butter, there might be some nice lotion, and Chris will make  his coffee -- it's almost all roasted now, and not all of  it  needs grinding. The cake stuff  is purchased and the jam is already made, and the hot sauce just needs to be wrapped better than last year, when one of them broke in transit.

If I were even more motivated and took a class that involved motivated teachers with sturdy rulers or some other sort of device  to encourage compliance, they might get knitted scarves or the like, but honestly, I have tried, and more than one knitting teacher, including Milady, gave up on me. So that's the one thing that seemingly every woman in the  world can do with ease that I cannot, and it is a source of, if not sorrow, some frustration at least, to me. I have not thrown away my "work bag" -- yet -- but it certainly hasn't moved from its location where I hung it since Milady threw up her hands and gave up on me, and it is a  reminder of her every day. In a  perverse joke of sorts, she willed me her 100 pairs of knitting needles, all of which are in said work bag.

Anyone who might be able to actually put some to good use, please let me know ...

I am hoping that the parcels and the holiday cards will be ready to go by next weekend. Then it will just be cleaning, baking for the home holiday, finishing the holiday shopping and wrapping, making a few gifts for local friends, and decorating.


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