I love this time of year––the sparkling lights in the long, dark night, holiday music, weaving cozily while storms rage outside, and visiting with family and friends. I try to avoid the holiday hype: crowded malls and those appalling TV commercials implying that one cannot be a successful friend or parent without gifting the ultimate trendy toy or gadget. Early in my adult life, December was a stressful month because I went a little crazy trying to create a "perfect" Christmas and Hannukah for my family, not with gifts but with too many expectations: too much cookie baking, gift making, decorating, and entertaining. All the self-imposed pressure sometimes made my attitude more grinch than Santa.
I've learned that the more I let go of expectations, the happier our holidays become. We're building new traditions that express our values. On "black Friday," when crowds are at the mall, my sister-in-law and I walk into the small town where she lives, go window shopping along the main street, buy a few stocking stuffers and books from local businesses, and do the bulk of our holiday shopping at the fair trade store. Rather than buying wrapping paper, I save the butcher paper and newsprint that many mail order businesses now use for packing instead of styrofoam. My daughter and I bought fun rubber stamps at the craft store to decorate the paper, and I recycle beautiful holiday cards from previous years as gift tags. My holiday wardrobe consists of scarves I've made, favorite garments purchased from other weavers, or finds from the resale shop. "White elephant" gifts from the thrift store provide tons of fun at guild or office parties. (Check out what I got at our Interweave gift exchange. It's almost indescribable.) Holiday decorations at my house are evergreen boughs, pine cones, and holly from our woods with a few bright ribbons and favorite ornaments, and friends get simple gift baskets of our Oregon hazel nuts and wine plus a bright handwoven towel or other household item.
Gift-making should be a pleasure for the maker as well as the receiver. My idea of heaven is to queue up CDs or playlists of medieval carols and settle in to weave gifts on a winter afternoon with no pressure to meet impossible deadlines. The gift can be handwoven scarves or towels, pin loom potholders, or tablet-woven bookmarks or ornaments, whatever my mood dictates and time allows. No expectations.
If (and only if) you're yearning for some holiday weaving projects to satisfy your soul, our Handwoven e-books offer some lovely and simple possibilities––towels and placemats, scarves, cute bags, fun holiday weaving, and other quick projects––and you can visit Weaving Today for free downloads of all kinds of projects.
Life provides us with enough pressures; we should find pleasure whenever we can. After a holiday dinner last night, a friend wished me a happy holiday and reminded me, "Be gentle with yourself." I'll second that wish for you and add one more: "Be joyful with yourself."