Disclaimer: I did not make either of the things highlighted in this post. But I can't help sharing them with you. They are just too cool. And they are handmade. So they still fit the genre of my blog, even if I didn't make them. End disclaimer.
This year, my favorite two Christmas presents came from my parents. One was such a happy reminder of where I've come from. The other, a wonderful encouragement for where I am going.
Over the past several years, my mom has been putting together a book of Traditions.
It includes all of our family recipes, stories, and holiday traditions from New Year's Eve to Christmas. I cannot even begin to describe how blown away I am by this book. It's all typed out and organized in plastic sleeves with blank pages included at the end for us to add our own traditions. It's all laid out by holiday and also includes a section of top secret jam recipes. This is a HUGE undertaking. My family has a lot of traditions. And I am so impressed by and proud of my mom for putting this together, for digging up all of the recipes, for the long hours in front of a computer, for documenting stories that will now never be lost to future generations....I am just overwhelmed to bursting over this little book, which is now one of my most treasured possessions.
My other favorite present was another very large undertaking. When I arrived in Jersey on December 23rd, I saw it wrapped up under the tree. I really wished I hadn't seen it because now I would be trying to figure out what it was until Christmas morning. For the next two days, my mind was a constant battleground between my incessant compulsion to figure it out and my intense love of surprises. Was it a dog house? I'm not allowed to have a dog in my apartment. Maybe my parents bought me a puppy and would keep it until I lived somewhere more pet-friendly. No, that didn't make any sense. Don't think about it. You want to be surprised. Maybe a giant bird house? But I live on the 2nd floor with nowhere to mount a bird house. Stop trying to figure it out. You'll ruin the surprise. A large manger scene? Tiny apartment = no room for a large manger scene. Think about something--anything else! Let it go so you can be surprised!!! But of course, when you're trying really hard not to think about something, that's all you can think about. Thankfully, the present was something I couldn't have imagined.
My parents made me a display cabinet for when I do craft shows. How awesome is that?!? It was my mom's idea, and she brought it to my dad. And my dad designed it and my mom improved on his design and he improved on hers and then he made this lovely cabinet for me:
I love this cabinet for a couple of reasons. First of all, its things like these that make me understand why my parents got married. My parents are two very different people. I don't think I can do justice to their differences here. Please just take it for granted that my sisters and I were always puzzled by the match. But when they brainstorm and create something together, it's nothing short of magic. From designing and building our house to staging Revolutionary War reenactments in our backyard to landscaping a garden, one of them will have an idea and the other will figure out how to make it work, and their artistry and creativity feeds off of each other until the lines get blurred and you can't tell what's Gary and what's Niki. It's just something wonderful and new.
The second reason that I love this cabinet is because it's beautiful! I knew that my dad was a gifted carver and artist, but I had no idea he could make furniture. Pretty freaking sweet.
And third, I love this cabinet because it will make my display awesome. This promotes me from casual crafter to serious business person. And to me, this isn't just a cabinet. This is my parents saying, "You can do this." And that means the world to me.
They didn't paint or stain it because they wanted me to pick the color. I knew right away what I wanted. So I went out and bought some lime green paint. When my dad saw it, he said, "If I knew you were going to paint it that color, I wouldn't have made it." He was joking. Mostly. I told him I wanted to thin the paint so the grain would show through, and then I wanted to wax it to give it an antiqued look. In my head, it was awesome. My dad needed some convincing. But it was my cabinet, and I was free to do what i wanted. So I helped him sand it. Then we wiped it down and vacuumed it to remove all of the sawdust. We mixed the paint with water, and I got to work painting it. Once the paint was dry, we rubbed minwax all over it. (This was backbreaking work.) We let the wax pull the grain out, and then we buffed it all over. (Jason helped with this part because I was too weak to get the desired buff.) And then we stepped back...and it was glorious. Exactly what I had envisioned. The wax toned down the lime green so that it turned out a perfect blend of funky-retro and classic-antique. The perfect stage for my lines of crafted goodness to come.
And with that, I am fully 100% caught up with Christmas posting. [Hooray! Streamers! Confetti!] So now I just have to catch you up on January... [insert the sound of a balloon deflating.] Someday I will be on top of this blogging thing. Really.