Handmade Gifts

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I love handmade gifts. My children all know this. Somehow all of my children managed not to inherit my craftiness and don’t seem to have married into it, either–I don’t think I have ever seen my daughter-in-law so much as pick up a needle and thread, or a hot glue gun for that matter. However, they do appreciate that it matters to me. Since they have started having kids of their own, they have made even more of an effort to acknowledge that about me, much to my appreciation. The grandkids are always giving me things that they have made as gifts, which I truly love. One year for mother’s day, I got tiny a tiny flowerpot from each of the grandkids that they decorated themselves. Inside each pot was a packet of flower seeds from their birth month. Another time, they made me stone pavers with their handprints. No matter how big they get, I can walk down the path to my garden and see all their tiny little handprints along the way.

I like to make homemade gifts, too. Every time one of my children got married, I presented them with a wedding quilt. They all have at least one needlepoint design from me hanging in their homes–I know that’s not for everyone, so I ask them about colors/patterns/their decorating style first. But the rule is that they have to have one somewhere. I hope that they aren’t just hanging it up when I come over but even that is kind of a sweet gesture. I’d forgive them. I would probably tell them enough with the charade, but if they don’t want to hurt my feelings, I won’t hurt theirs either. I have made receiving blankets for each of their little ones. I made each one of the granddaughters their own doll as well. Each child also has a handmade embroidered Christmas stocking from me. However, it has gotten harder to find things to make for them as they get older. Many of the things they want are electronic and that’s not something I can manage with a needle and thread. And they certainly don’t want to wear clothes that grandma knit for them anymore. They want brand name things, which are a bit out of my pension-dictated price range. I try, though. I’ll knit them a scarf or gloves—the cool ones now have removable fingertips for texting—and then give them an actual gift too.

I just love the idea of taking that special time out of my day to make them something. It speaks to how much they matter to me. They can see the amount of money and effort went into their gift and it lets them know how much of my heart is tied in with them. It’s worth the cost of materials and it is certainly worth my time—especially when I see them open the box and receive their gift. Then they see how much they really mean to me, and that really makes it all worth it.

More Than Just a Hobby

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Some people have hobbies; things they enjoy doing. A reason to get up in the morning when you get to be my age is a good thing. Sometimes it is even it is something we can make money at, sometimes not. Either way, it is an enjoyable way to pass the time and something we love to do whenever we get a chance. I would say, however, that needlepoint has been something more than a hobby for me.

Needlepoint keeps me busy. I am one of those people who must be doing something just about all the time. I went straight from school to keeping houseandhaving kids. There were always groceries to be purchased, meals to be prepared, a pile of laundry to be done, a home to clean. Now that most of that is done with, my kids are always trying to get me to slow down. It seems that at “my age,” I should be relaxing. No thank you. Giving me a needlepoint project gives me something to do with my hands and focuses my energies. It keeps my mind sharp and my fingers strong.

It also gives me a creative outlet. I like to use all my leftover thread in designs of my own creation. It is actually a lot of fun and I enjoy expressing myself this way. I do also like to find kits to make. Sometimes I can be in the craft store for hours trying to decide on my next project. I will often walk out with more than one. I also love seeing the picture start to emerge as I work my way through the design.

For me, there is also a social aspect to needlepoint. I have some friends at the senior center and we all get together to work on projects. Now that my kids are all grown and have families of their own, I often find myself missing conversation and companionship. So once a week, I go down to the center. Us girls sit around and work on our crafts while we chat. I love it. I also have this blog, where I hope to talk to others who are like-minded.

Another blessing I have found is that needlepoint allows me to show my family that I care about them. Nothing says love like making a gift for someone—a labor intensive, beautiful gift. I have been making handmade gifts for family and friends since I was put on bedrest when I was pregnant with my first child. It may not be everyone’s first choice in home décor, I know. I have found that around the holidays or for the birth of babies, my gifts are always well-received. Of course, I try to find a project that will appeal to the person I want to give something to, which is time-consuming but very worth it for me. And because they love me too, if they wouldn’t necessarily choose the gift for themselves, they still appreciate the time and effort that went into creating a one of a kind gift.

So I think needlepoint deserves to be elevated above hobby status for me. Maybe it’s more like a calling.

Keeping Busy

You might think that a room full of women doing needlepoint would be a boring place to spend the day, but you obviously have never spent time with me and my friends at the senior center. Sure, we can sit quietly and stitch all day—and at our age, we’ve earned that right a dozen times over—but we can also give a gossipy group of teenage girls a run for their money. We stitch, we chat, we laugh. It is always nice to get out and be around other people. Especially talented, friendly people who share an interest with you. I love my time at the senior center.I don’t know how much longer I will be able to drive, so I try to appreciate it while I still can.

For the last couple of weeks, the girls and I have been working on a time consuming but hugely important task. We are embroidering Christmas stockings that we will be donating to the local children’s hospital. A local Girl Scout troop has raised money to fill the stockings with little toys and treats. They will be delivering them to the children at the hospital a few days before Christmas. I think they will even be singing some carols to brighten the spirit of those poor little ones and their families. I was very lucky—my three were never so severely ill that they required an extended hospital stay, and never over a holiday. I can’t imagine how those children and their families must feel. If I can give them even a moment of cheer or feeling like a normal kid for just a little while, it is totally worth it to me.

We have done other projects for the hospital, too. We framed some needlepoint projects for them to decorate the rooms with, we’ve made pillows for the therapy rooms, knit hats and booties for the babies, and even made some quilts for the parents to use when they have to stay overnight. We have also made quilts for some of the other members of the senior center for when they are going through the chemotherapy or if they are transferred to an elder-care facility. Everyone needs comfort in some form, and nothing says love like something that is handmade with care.

I may be older now, and it has been hard to keep up with all of the new fancy technology that seems to change every minute. Every time I see my granddaughter, I ask her questions about how to keep up this blog. She always sits down with me to help. My eyesight is still ok, and on the days that my hands feel OK, I can still embroider like a champ. That is something I can still do, and I will do it as long as I can. I love to be able to contribute. When my little group donates our projects somewhere, it feels really good. It reminds me that I may be old but I still have a lot of worth.