Sunday, November 21, 2010

In which the Gingerbread Lady makes Christmas cards ...

This mightn't mean much to you -


but it means a lot to us. This is our mediaeval Advent Market - or what will be the mediaeval Advent Market. At the moment it's just a crowd of chain-smoking chappies in blue overalls, hammering the little wooden houses together, but in a matter of days, it'll be a little village full of hairy locals in hemp robes, selling hot chestnuts and wooden swords.

The pre-Christmas period is always jolly nice, but nowhere nicer than in Bavaria. This part of Germany is known for its Christmas gingerbread - yes, really, that's why I chose this name (I've ginger hair, too. A happy coincidence) and its Christmas markets. Nuremberg's Christkindlsmarkt (Christchild's Market) is world famous and almost eye-poppingly picturesque. You could happily guzzle your way from one end of the market to the other: slurping candy-floss, sucking candied ginger, munching toffee apples and swilling mulled wine. And rest assured, dear readers, we do this once a year as a matter of tradition.

Anyway, before I get carried away with a rhapsody of Christmas treats, let me tell you about this week's trauma:
I turned (whisper it) thirty-six. Thirty-SIX. I've spent the last five years recovering from the shock of turning thirty, so it came as quite a surprise when I realised that I was rapidly sliding towards the big four-oh (whisper it) - yes, forty. My pain was eased slightly by the arrival of pretty cards (look at the cards my little sisters made me. Aren't they purdy?)


 

and the appearance of presents. Obviously, I'd like to think that I'm the kind of person who eschews presents in favour of good deeds (e.g. a donkey donated in my name to a Third World village), but I cannot tell a lie: donkey, yes, and a skein of yarn for me.

No, actually, my attitude towards presents has changed. I've become a rabid re-gifter: despite being surrounded by stuff, I hate it. I don't like all these things. I have very little sentimentality, I don't attach great meaning to very much.  Use it or lose it has become my motto. I don't keep fancy glasses for A Special Occasion, I don't save handmade soap for Sometime in the Future, I don't put expensive wine aside to gather dust. Essentially, my possessions are either Mine (I use them and love them) or On Their Way To Someone Else - and that's good, too. In my peculiar view of the universe, everything has a home and everything has an owner, and the things that are currently resting in my possession might really be destined for someone else who will love them more.

In this spirit, I've tried to re-examine what I gift. For example, I spent yesterday afternoon making my Christmas cards.

I started making my own Christmas cards years ago. I thought it was going to be a one-time thing but it's become a kind of Christmas tradition as well ... along with a growing Christmas card list. A couple of years ago, I ran out of steam after a long afternoon chopping and sticking tiny pieces of paper and affixing intricate little shiny stars, so I gave up and and bought a few Christmas cards for colleagues. They hated them. Well, no, they didn't, but they each made a point of remarking that they really missed my handmade cards - and I realised then that actually the handmadedness was really the gift, not the card. They actually appreciated the effort, the uniqueness and the slight wonkiness of my handmade offerings. So back to the drawing board (desk) I went, armed with my glitter glue and wooden reindeer. They each got two cards that year and a crisis was avoided.

This year, I've even made little parcels with a half-dozen handmade Christmas cards for my favourite friends and colleagues - an Advent present, not a Christmas present. Fingers crossed that they'll like them.

8 comments:

love2stitch said...

I'd love them if somebody doesn't ask him/her to send them my way

Emily said...

Little sister!!!! never thought of myself as that!!! Glad you got the card and pressie... have the same rabid re-gifting gene too!! We so look forward to your cards every year- and have kept every one of them (and, I confess, put them all out every year, we are simply watching for trends etc)

The Gingerbread Lady said...

You never thought of yourself as my little sister??? You do realise that I am older than you, don't you? ;-)

Gracey is not my name.... said...

Love those! The second birthday card is very cool! The first is pretty, but I like the look of the second one...

Clara said...

Love the cards! Very professional.

quinn said...

I love your pretty cards! And I owe you a belated and grateful "thanks!" for your post about making tea. My tea-making now includes an apparently crucial step which your family uses, and my has never tasted better! Spoiled, I am.

Clara said...

I sooo wish I could adopt your way of thinking. Actually, see I'm much older than you....I'm 52 and at a stage where I wish I had not kept all of this junk I have been toting about for years. I am sentimental so it is quite hard to ditch some of the stuff I have collected but I have been making an effort. My 22 year old is much like you and I've always admired her for it and I believe it is actually a frugal, wise and very conscious way to live life.

havenaht said...

I just stumbled upon your blog via Ravelry, and thought from your pictures that you might live in Nuernberg. So happy to see that I'm right! I lived near Nuernberg for a winter and came back for Christmas the next year... What a lovely Weihnachtsmarkt!

Thanks for sharing the photos!