Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Part of Gift

At this time of year, I often while away the time spent in the serpentine queues before cash desks thinking about a story that appears in a Christmas reader for our students. Blithely ignoring the woman behind me, who's decided to remove the skin on my shins with her child's pushchair (no, really, misssus, shoving the vehicle in the back of my legs will not make the fifteen people before me magically disappear or even make them move faster), I think of the story of a teacher at an African school who explained the meaning of Christmas and how Christians celebrate - and how they give each other gifts in the Christmas season. Some time after, one of the children turned up at the school with a sea shell, which he presented to the teacher as a Christmas present. The teacher realised that the shell could have only come from the coast, several hours' walk away.
"You didn't have to go so far to get me a gift," the teacher said.
"Long walk part of gift!" the child replied.

This is my zen-mantra during the worst periods of Christmas shopping. While waiting in line for a free counter while the post office workers chat to each other beside the parcel depot, I grin brightly and think, "Long queue part of gift!" When poked in the legs by errant rolls of wrapping paper, I think "Weird bruises part of gift!" When I suppress the urge to smack the bottom of the wally that thought it would be a good idea to bring their red setter puppy on a last-minute Christmas shopping expedition at our city's crowded mall at 4 p.m. on the 21st December, I breathe deeply and think, "Great patience part of gift!" By the same token, when I hold the door open for someone and that person looks me in the face, smiles and says, "Danke schön!" I also think, "Small kindness part of gift!" 
I hope the recipients of my clumsily-wrapped Christmas presents appreciate all the extra intangible bits and pieces that have been wrapped up inside them, along with the gifts themselves.

In any case, I am simultaneously disorganised (72 hours and counting down!) and breathtakingly organised at the same time. First of all - the organisation:

I decided to knit a couple of soap socks for the colleagues that I work most closely with, the ones I see every day. Five or six, I guesstimated. (Pause for laughter.) Twenty socks later, my apartment smells of Yardley's Rose and Lavender soaps, and I can only thank the heavens that my husband has been struck by the near-death experience of a mancold (= do watch this. It will be familiar to many of you), rendering him incapable of smelling anything.

I've also made some yarn-covered pens. This idea is from my sister Emily, who has been doing Trojan work on her blog, coming up with quick and easy gift ideas for every day of Advent. Really: if you're reading this post with cold sweat running down your back, your pulse racing at the thought of all the uncrafted and unbought gifts on your list, have a look at her blog here. The yarn pens are super cute and quick to make (mine are a lot less neat and a lot more woolly than hers).

The disorganisation? No decorations up. No tree bought. No presents wrapped. No washing done, no floors vacuumed, empty fridge. Oopsie.

And how did the soap socks go down at my school? Well, after the astonishment that I'd actually made them myself had died down, and after I'd explained what they were and that, no, you didn't have to actually use them, you could also stick them in your among your bed-linen or use them to scent your drawers, one of my colleagues did a quick tally of the soaps knitted and said, "How many did you make? Have you been knitting non-stop for the last week?"
More or less, I thought. Long knit part of gift!


Marie/Underground Crafter said...

I needed to read this after my own weird night of shopping. Weird bruises will definitely be part of my gifts!

Red Hen (dette) said...

Good luck getting it all to come together for christmas day.
I'm part way there too and was alarmed at the countdown. 2 and a half days! I'd best get going and vaccumm and mpo the floors too!
Have a Merry Christmas.

Sara said...

What a lovely story. Give me a hand crafted, lovingly made gift over commercialism any day. Now off to read your sister's blog.

Paula said...

I do like your yarn pens, they're beautiful. Your knitted soap socks reminded me of the soap crochet pouches my mum used to make years ago when they were all the rage.

hooksandyarns said...

Love your soap socks - and the pens too. :)

Sue said...

Brilliant post! Your gifts will be much admired I'm sure. As for the rest of it,I know how you feel having only just put up our tree and not wrapped a single present!

Emily said...

I love your pens... gorgeous colours! I think I got off easier with a blogpost a day... knitting 20 socks :-O Eeeek!! And as for mancolds... don't talk to me, we are VERY well aquainted with those in this house...

anon said...

This is the most inspiration and moving Christmas post this year. You deserve a prize! (And a Happy Christmas).

renee said...

I love the pens! I need to make some immediately!

Amina Mucciolo said...

Really love the yarn pens! I always love having cute pens around

la_petite_fraise said...

I've got to say, I read this post a while ago, and it has really stuck with me. I just recently started going back to school for art while also keeping my job as an office manager on campus. This involves trudging across campus in high heels and carrying a huge, heavy art bag for my sketchbooks. It tends to be...painful. And aggravating. But, I kept this post in mind and I kept telling myself, "Long walk part of gift," then, "Long walk in heels part of gift," and even, "Long walk in heels up stairs carrying huge bag part of gift." And you know what? It worked :) Going to school for art has been my dream for so long, and being able to go now has been a huge blessing and truly a gift to myself. Then, today, I noticed my calves are smaller and are starting to show some muscle definition. "Sexy calves part of gift!"

Thanks for doing what you do!