It is that time of year when most of us are inevitably looking for a special gift to give, whether it be for a family member, friend, child’s teacher, or office mate. We decided it would be fun to bring back our Holiday Gift Guide in order to showcase some fantastic gift ideas we’d choose for that special someone in our lives.
My family has always been a bit non-traditional when it comes to the holidays. I grew up in a blended household, and now have my own uniquely blended household to organize around. Most years my household celebrates Solstice since we can be fairly sure that everyone will be home around then. After that, my son often heads to his dad’s house, and my partner’s kid heads to their mom’s house. As for my parents and stepparents, we gather for the holidays when we can, and often find that it’s not until mid-January that I’m finally opening gifts with one group of family or another. One year the official “Kelley Family Christmas” was on St. Patrick’s Day! I’m sure in many families this is the case, and we know it really doesn’t matter when you get together to share a meal and exchange gifts – it just matters that we do it at least once a year.
I often make gifts for my extended family that I know I’ll see around the holidays. I always prefer one nice handmade gift to the endless tchotchkes that clutter up the holiday spirit. I like quick things to knit, crafts I can do with my kids, and things I know the receiver would like to make.
Knit using just a partial ball of Road to China Light, they are also great for using up whatever bits of yarn you have lying about.
This week I have a candle making project planned for my 9-yo and I to do together. I have a bunch of vintage teacups, and we’re going to use these directions to try our hand at some basic scented candle making. We’ll see how that goes…
Truth be told, the reason I like a handmade gift is that I’m a historically a bad gift buyer. I get stressed out trying to buy things that I think people don’t want or need. I also, coincidentally, get stressed out when people give me things I don’t want or need! The wastefulness of the season can plunge me into an anxious depression that is hard to shake, and more than once I’ve driven home from a family holiday function – car packed to the roof with toys – internally freaking out about all the stuff I have to carry inside, unpack, find room for in the house, just to eventually gather up the broken pieces to throw away, and pack up the neglected things for donation. This year, while I’m pretty dedicated to this candle project, I haven’t had time to make any other gifts. I don’t want to go shopping, and I don’t know what I would buy even if I tried. No one needs another uninspired bar of scented soap.
Instead, as a family, we chose six charities to donate to in our family members’ names.
For my sister, the biochemist, we’ll be donating in her name to Doctor’s Without Borders. For my aunt and uncle, who might have shocked my grandmother by their interfaith marriage back in the 80’s (she’s Jewish and he’s Catholic), we’re donating in their name to the ACLU. For my step-mom who just beat breast cancer, we’re donating to Planned Parenthood, whose recently expanded breast health initiative will help many low-income women learn to detect the early stages of cancer. For my brother-in-law, the environmental engineer, we’re proudly donating in his name to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to aid in their fight to reroute the Dakota Access pipeline. For my dad, born and raised in Washington, DC, who was a medic in Vietnam, we’re donating to the Washington Peace Center’s Civilian Soldier Alliance on his behalf. And for my mom, who has a penchant for adopting tiny, old dogs from the shelter, we’re making a donation on her behalf to a local charity, the City of Elderly Love.
We hope that our gifts to these six organizations make a difference in the lives of people (and animals!) this year. We encourage you to give from the heart this holiday season as well!
Happy Holidays from the Kelley, Tenaglia, Strebeck, Parrish-Kelley family.