Friday, November 20, 2009

Square 79: Gift season

Square 079

My posts to The Yarn have slowed down for one simple reason: gift-giving season. Besides the obvious, my daughters both have fall birthdays. Much of my free knitting time has been taken up making things for them. I didn't knit gifts last year, but Brenna specifically requested a new hat, and by the time it was complete I had decided to knit something for Marian, too. She turns eighteen in a few more weeks, and her gift will be quite different from anything I have made before.

Mom loved this time of year. One Christmas morning about 10 years ago she told me, with surprise, that she had slept through the night, the first time she could ever remember doing so on Christmas Eve. Mom slept easily and frequently, but not then. She was a generous gift-giver, who took at least as much genuine pleasure in giving as receiving.

I picked it up from her. As a teenager I made a lot of my gifts, especially boxes of jams and preserves for my older brothers and their wives. One year I decorated a row of cans (coffee or Pringles size) as soldiers in colourful, historical uniforms and placed them along the mantle, one for each family member. They contained cookies and other goodies homemade by me and Mom.

I celebrated Christmas in style until well into adulthood, but a few years ago became disenchanted. I can't explain why; it was more an emotional departure than a rational one. We might be better off without the consumerism, materialism and rich food, but we should still celebrate family time with or without those things, and my mother's excitement was essentially all about family.

My definition of family has expanded to include friends close to me, and for most of them this is an important season, whether it be Christmas, Hannukah, Solstice, the Festival of Lights or just good old no-name celebration.

I suppose part of my enthusiasm for Christmas was lost when Mom departed from us. This time of year will never be the same without her. But as I told the loved ones who gathered to remember her, Mom's battle with cancer taught her to appreciate every single day as a gift, so we should try to honour her wisdom by living that way, not getting lost in grief and regret.

That lesson was one of the best gifts Mom ever gave, and it inspires me to refresh my own spirit of giving this year.

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