Yet no matter how rich we manage to become, something human in us says our true worth is reflected by what we ourselves create.
John Jeavons, How to Grow More Vegetables
Yes, Christmas is coming again, which always makes me feel a wee bit tired. My girls are very big on Christmas. Like every other sane person in the world, I like Christmas to be calm, family-and-friend oriented, and of course, not about stuff. But for children, it is about stuff, wrapped up under the Christmas tree. So my commitment to avoid the proliferation of stuff on the planet has led me to encourage my marvellously creative and artistic children to let their imaginations run wild and make lovely gifts for each other and me, using what we have as much as possible.
Here are some of their triumphs:
A couple of years ago I commissioned The Girl to paint these canvasses for Rosy's room. She used old, painted canvasses that the girls didn't want any more, and painted over them with white ceiling paint from the shed. The minty green was a sample pot from the paint store, in Rosy's favourite colour. The Girl found the design on the internet, and transferred it freehand (yes, she is rather clever) to stencils made from butcher's paper and sticky tape. I would never in a million years have been able to produce such a beautiful product, but she is patient and careful, qualities that I lack.
In her turn, Rosy made this artwork for her little sister, Posy. We bought the shadow-box frame from some discount store (this was before we started our Buy Nothing New Year, but I have seen these in op-shops since..), and the Japanese washi paper from our local art supply store, which sells it by the sheet.
The pin wheels are made from the pages of an old book (I keep any of our op-shop specials that fall apart), and the buttons are from the button jar, something which every family needs to entertain the children on a wet afternoon (oh, and also because spare buttons are useful).
Rosy made a similar picture for The Girl:
A washi paper background again, this time with origami butterflies made out of old sheet music that belonged to my mother. I love the juxtaposition of flying storks and flying butterflies.. I must recommend an origami book for every family with children. I don't know how many hours have been happily passed with the girls and their friends engrossed in paper folding around the kitchen table. And now they can make such beautiful objets d'art..
Speaking of which, the magnificent origami ball in the photo at the top of the post was made for me by The Girl for Christmas a couple of years ago, and is one of my favourite Christmas presents ever.
And, just to prove that although I am a reluctant crafter, I do turn my hand to a creative enterprise occasionally, here is a little project I created for Rosy's birthday earlier in the year. It is a wipeable whiteboard, except that it is, as you will note, actually black. I made it with a framed print from the op-shop ($1.50). I took the cardboard print out and spray-painted it black, cleaned the rather dirty glass, decided the slightly chipped white paint of the frame was the look I was going for anyway, and put it all back together. I did purchase a wipeable chalk-paint marker pen from the art supply shop, and wrote 'Happy Birthday' on the glass with it, and that was Rosy's birthday card. Since then a succession of uplifting remarks have appeared on it in Rosy's elegant handwriting. I particularly like this one..
This year, a selection of new and interesting home-made gifts is being prepared. As I write, Posy is busy creating a painted name-board for her classmate who is her Secret Santa draw for the class Christmas party.
Meanwhile, my commitment to humble gifts continues, and jars of jam, home-made Christmas goodies and potted plants from my garden are destined for my friends, family and colleagues this year.
Thursday night saw our Living Better With Less Group gather together for our 'Christmas do' with home-made Christmas snacks, and a present-swap consisting of 'Christmas in a Jar' (jam, chutney, lemon butter, vanilla syrup, home-made candles, home-cured olives, home-made cleaning products, and a bag of wonderful home-made compost!). I gratefully received an IOU for a soon-to-be-hatched Australorp hen to come and live with me in a couple of months' time:) I am always so happy to be back at the Living Better Group - it is like coming back to my tribe. The ones who get it. A simple life, home-made, not glamorous, but meaningful and real, and if indeed our "true worth is reflected by what we ourselves create," then we here are all rich indeed..