Christmas is my favorite holiday. For years I made gifts because I was poor. Good thing I enjoyed being crafty or I would have told my family at the annual Christmas gathering, “Sorry, once again you are SOL. Good thing you own so much stuff you have to use your three car garage as a storage unit.”

Come to think of it I probably could have gone shopping in that garage on the sly. I’d throw the unopened set of mugs in a gift bag and VIOLA. “I got you a set of mugs. They’re vintage. Found them at a garage sale.”

When I was thirteen years old I made my first homemade gifts. My three sisters were coming home and I couldn’t wait. 

On Christmas morning we gathered in the living room. Mom read aloud the Christmas card from her parents. “Merry Christmas, All. We just received your gift of salad toppings and they’re almost gone.”

My sister Sara says, “What the heck. You got them salad toppings?”

Mom says, “Goodness, they must have thought the potpourri was salad toppings.”

Everyone laughs. My mother looks worried.

It comes time for the grand presentation of my homemade gifts. 

I ask my brother to help. “I made each of you a cheesecake. The fancy kind in a springform pan. It comes with a jar of praline topping.”

The three large cheescakes take over the coffee table. Gift wrap and ribbon fall to the floor. My sisters say in unison, “Wow, that’s a lot of cheesecake!”

I look at the cheesecake display and agree with them. The oversized National Geographic coffee table book looks much better than the three big ol’ coffee table cheesecakes that should probably be refrigerated.

Later, during my struggling twenties I’d buy Good Housekeeping for homemade gift ideas. I made jam. I made vases with colorful marble stones and wire.

One year I decided to make sachets of dried apples, cinammon sticks and cloves. 

I pull out the apples that have been drying in the closet for weeks. They’re moldy. My project is ruined.

The annual family Christmas gathering is fast approaching.

I buy high quality paper from Ben Franklin.  It has a gold frame around it. I type up a certificate with fancy lettering. It says:

“I’ve been volunteering at the Keep The James River Beautiful club. I’m Donating Ten Hours Of My Time In Your Name.”

Cringe-worthy stuff. A friend of mine told me his brother gave him a video of his brother and wife frolicking around Hatteras Island with their dogs. It makes me feel better about myself.

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