By Tammy Tait
Dedicated to Wendy Wood
While opening up our family Christmas boxes, I stumbled upon a magical memory. Now, not everyone can say an angel made their ornament, but I can. I can tell you about the value of handicrafts and the treasures we find while Creating, Crafting & Gifting things to our fellow man.
One of my dearest friends sat down so many winters ago in her soft corner chair, thinking happy thoughts about me while she folded and pinned a beautiful fabric ornament. How I remember being genuinely happy as I opened this gift and saw such an ornate and precious ornament. The sharp points were so neat and the colours were chosen with me in mind. My heart was so full and up onto the tree that ornament went.
When I ran into her in front of the children’s school the next day I thanked her again for such a beautiful gift. She chuckled and said it was not that complicated or difficult to make . The idea that this beautiful ornament was ‘not hard’ gave me pause as it was so precise and detailed. I asked for her to show me her crafty ways but then the holidays came and went and the ornament was packed away with the close of that season.
The next year came and I took out that ornament and thought I should find that time to learn the art of the ornament. We were festive and jolly and that season too came a close with the ornament safely tucked away for another year.
Winter that year was hard, and my friend and I were both limping and whining about a sore back, a sore hip. I went to physio; she went to her doctors. My back got better and her doctor sent her to more doctors.
See, my friend had beaten cancer several years ago. She had been told she would not beat it but with grace and an unbreakable spirit she survived and thrived. Until that moment. The cancer was back and the battle was quite uphill. Her army rallied round and we all fell into the roles we had known, the ear, the driver, the child minder and often the comedians.
We friends soldiered on and through the winter we saw her decline & yet continue to shine. We were all so busy in our lives and she in hers that the ornament went up and came down without too much thought.
That January she emailed me and told me she needed a kick in the butt and that we should get together to craft. We set that date and made a plan for the weekend. We were going to make memories and she was to show me this beautiful craft.
Mid week, our beautiful friend passed away and the weekend never came.
We were swallowed up in the process of grief and sadness and then moved to the healing.
That winter came and I will say I lay in a puddle of tears when I found my ornament that Christmas. Missed opportunities suck. I sat and reflected upon a life well lived and about how determined and great my friend was until the end. This woman bundled up and went dog sledding in the Yukon just weeks before she passed.
What right did I have to sit and pout? She seldom pouted and I did not have any business sitting in my puddle. In that moment, I could feel her looking down and telling me to move forward. To always make memories and to have fun was her way.
The very next day I bought all of the supplies, watched Youtube and taught myself to make those ornaments. I spent the entire holiday season mastering the craft and sharing the ornaments with family and friends. That fall, those ornaments were entered into the fall fair and ribboned.
I began to show friends and family how to create the balls and we gathered in groups to laugh and pin away the time. Soon with the progression of this new skill I bravely approached the school to start a craft group for young girls, which was well received! We had so much fun as a group and the young girls all took their new craft home that year to share with family and friends.
Sitting at tables in their own homes sharing a wonderful craft. We started with the ornaments and that group of girls went on to learn to sew reusable bags as well as simple quilts, all in elementary school. Many are now crafters in markets and share their wares to the community.
Time spent creating is something we miss out on often in today’s busy world. Time connecting and making memories is always well spent, often better spent than on the mass-produced things.
Sometimes it feels like we are losing sight of community in our pursuit for ‘busy’. Our hands and hearts cannot put a price tag on the items we craft as the time put in does not translate well to the economy of fast. We are forgetting the joy we get in creation and maybe not stopping to remember the value of the handicraft.
I was given a gift that has provided so much gold: the memories, the camaraderie, and the pleasure of honouring a friend who would be right tickled knowing how far her one simple gift has spread so much happiness.
I miss my friend each December when the ornament is pulled from the Christmas boxes and I always will. I still take pleasure in holding it and seeing where her hands poked pins and how precise her eye was. She may not have been here to teach me to duplicate her beautiful creation, but her spirit is here and she would be happy to know how many people create these ornaments because of her simple gesture of a handcrafted gift.
In my mind, I know my ornaments too bring joy and pleasure to those who have hung them on their trees, it is a magic that keeps giving. We craft for those reasons- memories and joy.
Each holiday season, remember to enjoy the small things and love the handmade items. Share your stories of where they came from and who made them. We never know when a spark of
creation may happen and we never know when a gift will become a treasured memory.