Saturday, December 24
Knitting Socks and Revisiting the Mitten/Orange Mentality
This Christmas people are getting a lot of socks.
That is what I have been knitting these past few months after the kids are in bed and I can concentrate on my knitting and purling. In my effort to spend less on gifts without sacrificing the giving, I have been making presents and scaling back in general.
We have trimmed the Christmas shopping list this year to the minimum. Discussions with family members have resulted in the discovery that they are sick of exchanging gift cards as well. Our new rule - we buy for the kids and the adults can enjoy watching them open things. And we will all go out to dinner someplace nice, after the holidays.
This takes care of a few names on the list, and the few that are left are the beneficiaries of our streamline approach. We now have more time and a little more in the way of funds, to think about what these people would really like and to get it for them.
And of course, the socks. My father wears them when he is out hunting deer. My Mom likes them to shield her bare feet from the cold hardwoods first thing in the morning. My brother likes them for outdoor football games. And I like making them. To be able to give a handmade gift that you know people will actually like and use is a great feeling. How many times have you made something for someone, thinking it was a great idea, and then finding out that they never use it?
Last year, I wrote the following post:
I have been knitting like crazy here for the past few months, making Christmas socks and socks for me. Yes, I am obsessed with knitting socks. Since I figures out how I can not stop - knit 2, purl 2, eye of partridge, turn that heel!
So much so that my right thumb and index finger are chapped and cracked. Ouch!
Oh, the pains of homesteading.....
The people I gave socks to all loved them but I can not help but wonder about the general mentality of receiving home made gifts. When I was a kid, getting a home made gift was kind of like getting cheated out of a real gift. There was disappointment there. Now I know better, or course, and home made gifts are the best kind. But are we too entrenched in store bought that we can't go back to having home made mean more?
I always think about the episode of Little House where they are celebrating Christmas in their little sod house and the girls got mittens that Ma made. I thought to myself, "That is so cool and it would be so much fun to celebrate Christmas like that." But a small part of me kind of felt sorry for them. Maybe that is not the right way to say it. In fact, I am really not sure how to put it into words. I think that I, as well as most people, take for granted that we can go to the store and buy numerous, expensive Christmas gifts. Reading Christmas stories from the early 1900's tells us that getting an orange in your stocking was the biggest treat ever. When I heard those stories as a kid, I just couldn't understand why.
Are we too far gone? Can we get that mitten/orange mentality back? Will our children, or our generation for that matter, be able to look at home made gifts in the way they should be? Or will there always be that little feeling of disappointment?
Still true? We talked to our relatives and decided smaller is better. They were not mad and they did not think we were being cheap. The people I gave socks to were not disappointed as far as I could tell, in that they were asking me to make them more. Maybe as a community we can foster this little idea and see if we can get it to take hold: less is more, time is worth more than money, and it really is the thought that counts. If we can get this going in my family, where one whole branch of the tree is obsessed with Black Friday big screen tv deals, I think we have a shot.