If you knew my mother, Susan Jane Hatch,
you would understand why my siblings and I value hand made, homemade, from scratch.
She has filled up our lives with the gift of time, patience, and love that handmade items bring. Every year, I make at least one gift for my small family. I regularly make things for friends and extended family. Of course, yes, these items are not perfect. But they are made with such love and thoughtfulness. My sisters have carried this tradition into their own families. When my sister Cara and her husband were going through medical school and residency, Cara came up with such sweet home made gifts for my parents. One idea I know my parents cherish to this day is a plate listing fond memories. Cara has made me a gigantic rubber band and a picture framed note board. I took that idea and ran with it earlier this year with the girls in Young Women to make and use to announce the ways they love their own family members. My sister Jocelyn has used her talents and skills to sew me a quilt, a scarf (which I opened early this year b/c I couldn't wait for the 25th) and a table runner. (We love a nicely set table!) She cross stitched a personalized, vibrantly colored frog family for us. Jocelyn and Marissa both teach their kids to make hand made gifts for family members. Marissa has made amazing throw pillows and Halloween decorations as well as sweet Christmas Countdowns. Her boys are learning what Jocelyn kids' know...to make a handmade gift is giving more than a gift. It is giving a part of you. When he was about 13 years old, my brother made me this amazing mirror...which broke only a couple of years ago, much to my dismay. I had it on my shelf above my laundry at both of my homes. It was a large, heavy commercial grade mirror that Jordan carted home from some adventure. He sliced a garden hose and wrapped the edges of the mirror with it. Felt wrapped the hose. Then, letters were cut from red and white gingham fabric....so it read "I love (arrow).." I always felt loved when I looked into that mirror. Now in her later years, my mom seemed to have forgotten that she started all of us on this path. Today, I gathered up some of the gifts she made me. I know that so many of the gifts she gave me are lost to time or intangible. But here are some of the ones that have lasted and continue to be cherished.
Crafting for Christmas started early for my mom. Every year she would give me a new ornament. Many years, those were hand made like these:
The candy cane was stuffed. (There is also a matching cherub that I will have to add a picture of in the future.) My list says that I made these in 1977. I'm sure with a lot of her help.
She and my dad painted up these wooden ornaments. I used to have one that was Cinderella..but a few years ago, it came up missing. So sad These were made in 1976...when I was 3 years old.
Along with these, my parents started the tradition of "Making a Christmas Ornament after Thanksgiving dinner." She came up with creative designs that our little fingers could paint, glue, stitch together. My tree might not be the most elegant, but it has the greatest memories tucked in the branches. Although these hand made ornaments we made over the years show the passage of time, I simply can not get rid of them. Even if they sit in my box, only to be admired when hanging up the tree, they will be kept.
My mom made this one from beads and safety pins with her friends at Friends & Neighbors.
(Wanted: a friend and neighbor to craft with me!!) 1979
Even after I grew up, she continued to make ornaments for me.
Reindeer Spoon: 1988
Lace Snowflake: 1982
Snowman tealight face: I'm guessing 2013...Mom kept better records than me!
I noticed a stuffed, sewn 3D Christmas tree on the tree a few minutes ago that needs a picture too!
When the grandbabies came, she made them ornaments to be loved, cherished and admired yearly.
Santa Tie: 1999...C*'s first ornament!
Quilt Square: ooops...this was not made by her...still home made from Evan's preschool teachers.
Paper ornament: 2011: (Need to ask her! But she does all sort of crafting...even paper crafting!)
Knitted Robes: 2010
There was another tradition my mom and her sister had as we were growing up. Since both families had 5 kids, my mom and aunt decided that instead of gifts, they would make a handmade Christmas decoration. We could open it early, usually just after Thanksgiving..and display it all season long. I know that I was not the only one jealous of my mom's amazing handmade items. (Esp when my aunt started buying store bought decorations after a while.)
One year she made them these polar bears and somehow, I got an extra one.
At least that is what I remember. Mom, let me know!
In 1999, my mom and dad made me this snowman that resides on my mantle from the day after Christmas (when I box up Christmas decor)
until the end of February when my snow decor is displayed.
In 2012, my parents made this block nativity for each of my kids.
They wrote a little note on the back. It will be cherished for years as they take these decorations from their childhood bedrooms to their own dorms and apartments.
Crafting did not stop at Christmas...
In 1985, if you completed all 12 Personal Progress goals the stake leaders made you this very trendy (for the time) wall hanging with your initials. They were passed out in a stake meeting at the beginning of the next year. When the girls saw mine, with beads in the flowers, you can be sure they were envious that my mom had taken the time to add the extra touch. Again, adding beads to your cross stitch was "the" thing to do at the time....way before Pinterest!
As a freshman in college, I received this turkey to decorate my dorm room in 1991.
I believe this spider was created for a stake RS meeting the next year.
And once again, mom sent me one to cheer me through October, midterms and Halloween.
This year, 2015, she discovered a way to make fabric postcards and mail them through the mail...without an envelope! This fun post card will be displayed every October!!
She learned to tat and one year I got a tatted snowflake for my ornament box (sniff, sniff, another one that went missing at some point.) She knits delicate booties for every baby that is born in her extended circle. A*'s American Girl Doll has a knitted sweater too. (I better not rummage through her organization for a picture.)
Last year I was trying to impress to my kids the importance of learning and developing skills and talents. We had a weekly "talent show" in our home. When it was decided that we would host Thanksgiving that year, I announced that we would have a family talent show. Show off your skills, let us know what you are learning/doing. My mom had started knitting a lot more...and she surprised me with this amazing, reversible cape! The grey side has ears for the wolf, and the red side is sweet for Little Red Ridinghood.
My mother sewed from a very early age.
Mom sewed me my baby bonnet from a hankie when I was an infant. I remember the year she made Cara and I matching, full sized blankets. Mine was pink gingham, while Cara's was blue gingham. They were such big blankets for two little girls. We LOVED them. She sewed matching Easter Dresses for my sisters and me yearly. She sewed my Senior Prom dress and my high school graduation dress.
A few years ago, she sewed a floppy sun hat for each of us girls for our birthdays. The year before that, she sewed us bags and dad helped pick out fabric and patterns to match the season when the birthday fell. He chose orange and green and flowers for mine...an August birthday. When I was sewing more often she made this lilac colored pin cushion with attached scrap bag. It is weighted so it can hang off the table...giving you work room, and organization. Another year, she sewed each of us an apron...
Mine uses fabric from my grandmother's stash after she passed.
It's large, reversible with long straps and ties that make it a great fit!
One year, she used her macrame skills to make each of the boys/men in the family a
survival bracelet out of paracord for Chrismas. Tucked inside each bracelet is fishing line and hooks!
When my kids were young, she made three amazing quiet books for church.
Filled with the truth of the gospel for little hands and short attention spans.
The year Jocelyn was born, Cara and I caught her sewing bonnets.
She fibbed and told us they were bonnets for baby Jocelyn.
I remember being told to go into the kitchen that Christmas Eve where there were some large garbage bags...
and inside those bags were these amazing dolls! A pair for each of us. With the bonnets we had seen her sewing!
I named mine Peter and Susan. (Susan being my mom's name.)
Peter wasn't bald. Several years ago, I started restuffing them after a cleaning and giving them new hair. Poor Peter never got done...and Susan's hair seems to need a better fix too. It would seem that I have a to do list growing for next year. (Note: fix that turkey's legs!)
These were loved and cherished and saved.
I am blessed with a strong maternal line...
and years ago, when she was suffering from carpel tunnel, my mom cut out windows in this mat
and made me a generational picture back to my great, great grandmother up to my dear daughter, A*.
In 1995, she made me this sweet box.
I am sure that it is probably my most favorite, most cherished item she has made for me.
It is something that would only appeal to me.
I was a very tired college graduate, coming home from a semester aboard.
Moving back home without a job, without the guy I so desperately wanted.
This was my gift on that Christmas eve from her. (The illustration taken from the Christmas book we read and cry over every Christmas Eve night as a family...together, on skype, or alone.)
I would chose this "small, unsightly box" out of all my treasures if I could only grab one of the home made items she made for me...
But out of all the wonderful gifts she and my dad gave to me over the many years,
they gave me this amazing, eternal family.
One that will stand the test of time.
No matter what.
Although we at times get annoyed with each other,
it never lasts long...
B/c we know what is most important and most cherished and most loved in this world and in the life to come.
I love you, Mom...and Dad...
Thanks for everything...handmade and tangible
and for the intangible.
As I typed this up and tried proof reading it, I was reminded of more and more handmade items given to me by my mom. And my dad, as he provided the supplies and loving support..and once in a while, the muscle. Each time, I ran to find the remembered item to snap a pix.
But it is growing dark...and I have my own hand made gifts to finish up and cookies to bake.
B/c if you knew my mom, you would know that she never does store bought cookies or breads.
But THAT...is another blog post entirely!
But THAT...is another blog post entirely!