Christmas can be a struggle for many people, it becomes stressful because of the expectations that we have put on ourselves to buy the best, buy the most, buy, buy and buy some more. There have been several times in my lifetime I remember scrounging to be able to buy gifts, some years were much leaner than others. Some years spending more than I should have, some years spending more because I could and perhaps making up for the years that I couldn't. Many years I added several more grey hairs to the collection wondering how I was ever going to pull it off. The joys of being a single parent. None the less, married parents, grandparents, kids, everyone goes through this stress.
In the last 5 years, in having my own business and just circumstances again I will refer to as Humble Pie, I did find myself struggling more than I would like to admit. There was a point that I realized that I wasn't going to be able to any gifts at all, never mind that, Christmas dinner was even up in the air. The thoughts that came into my head were not about me and what I felt I was experiencing but moreso that there are families EVERY SINGLE YEAR that cannot buy gifts or food ... or pay their mortgage and rent or their bills. EVERY SINGLE YEAR. So ... although I was feeling rather melancholy, I felt grateful that I hadn't experienced more lean years. I hoped I never would again.
What came out of it however, was rather remarkable.
Thanks to my fantastic children, they embraced a new tradition, one in which we will continue with. I think the other part of what I realized is how ridiculous Christmas had become, and the amounts of money that were being spent whether people had it or not. I haven't shopped in malls at Christmas for years ... it was just shopping chaos and it didn't feel to 'Christmasy' fighting with the crowds. It too much craziness and stress. I chose to shop at the smaller stores and the boutique shops to choose more one of a kind gifts if I could. It felt ... well ... more personal.
So long story short, last year we decided that we were going to draw names and everyone had to create WITH THEIR OWN HANDS ... a gift from the heart. No store bought allowed. We seriously had to hunker down and think outside the box, blend that with what we knew that people love and what we had the ability to create. Everyone put their thinking caps on, and scoured the internet for ideas that grabbed the true essence of the person they were asked to create gift for. I do believe that Pinterest was our number one go to. I will pin our gift board on the side if you want to DIY any of our fabulous ideas. I was really amazed at the amazing gifts ... the very thoughtful gifts that everyone came up with.
The grandparents wanted to still be able to give a gift to everyone because that is just what grandparents do, we all asked for the same gifts from each of them. From my dad, one of his carvings. He carves these beautiful pieces and yes, he literally set to work carving each of us our own piece. Now, my dear mother, much to her chagrin, is the queen of the Icelandic layer cake, Vinarterta (recipe link included) and although her and my dad have been making us a Vinarterta every year, each of the kids requested one as well. So dear ol' mum was baking cake day in and day out. I have mentioned how amazing they are have I not? Vikings love Vinarterta.
My daughter drew my name and so let's start with that. She and her husband Ian, went on an extended trip last fall across western Canada and then down the West coast of the US. Not only did they explore the wilds of every national park but they were also engaged on that trip. My daughter is a bit of a photography buff and took some amazing photos on their travels ... for my gift, she knew I loved art, of all kinds. She created four canvas prints of different tress barks in the different parks and decoupaged them onto canvas. They were outstanding.
I had drawn my son Devon's name and it didn't take long for me to figure out what he might like. I created a collection of photographs of him and his lovely girlfriend Britt from over the years and put them in a collage. They had recently moved into a new apartment, and there was plenty of wall space for art and photographs, they didn't have any pictures of themselves as a couple. I gave him one of my paintings as well.
I started painting again about a year and a half ago after a 20 year hiatus and decided that it would be nice to give my parents one of the paintings I had done, the first one actually.
My son-in-law Ian, made Miss Britt the most adorable magnetic "To Do Board". He knew that Britt studies all day long, and all night long, what better gift than something that can keep her organized. They ended up making one for Ian's sis as well because they loved how they turned out!
Devon my son, made the most remarkable piece of string art for his sister Steph. The painstaking hours it took to create this, I cannot imagine. All of my kids were blessed with the artistic gene, they just don't get to enjoy it all the time. I actually think that in starting to create our gifts, it has started a new family evolution back into the world of art. Note that one of my dad's Santa carvings made the pic as well.
Britt drew Ian's name ... she was worried that she wasn't artistic enough to participate, her creation garnered the most fun of all of them. She made a yard Yahtzee set, which was a ton'o'fun to say the least. We sat outside at Steph and Ian's new place in the backyard,drank wobbly pops and I think Mama C whipped her kids into Yahtzee shape.
Kael, our youngest Viking painted along side his mother and made everyone a contemporary piece, his first foray into the world of acrylic painting. Now most days when I pull out my paints, he is right there with me.
We are in the midst of creating our 2015 Christmas gifts and I can't wait to post the latest and greatest Viking Christmas creations. I will be busy this evening doing just that ... Kael by my side, how great is that.
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Let me not be judged by what I have and have not accomplished but by the remarkable children I have raised. Mother, Business Consultant, Entrepreneur, Designer, Artist.
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