autumn days

Saturday, October 15, 2011

gifts from the heart

My family buys a few things here and there for others for the holidays, mostly a dinner out together or a gift card for a favorite local store.  We give my children's friends homemade crayons, flower headbands and hair clips, and corn husk dolls.  The adults in our lives may receive homemade candles, scarves, and jams.  I know others are out there preparing for the holidays in October like me because my homeschool group is now putting together a holiday crafting party.  The kids will get together create and trade various crafts with one another.  One idea was to sell our crafts to one another as well.

That had me thinking about purchasing from my crafting friends instead of big box stores.  I have friends who make amazing products, from handmade colorful dresses and fine jewelry, to beautifully painted shirts.  My friends would appreciate home-canned goods that I can produce, either as a holiday gift or in exchange for one of their original creations.  When sharing thoughtful gifts with my friends and family, the evolution of my gift-giving has come a long way.  Instead of mall shopping, I can choose to give only locally made gifts created by myself, my children, or our friends.  That is a gift from the heart.

hand prints for Grandpa

children's clothing

My Uruguayan friend asked me recently where I get all my children's clothes and what brand names I prefer.  Answering her question reminded me that I have friends who buy all their children's clothes or who borrow what they need and still buy more, while we pretty much borrow all our clothes.  We borrow and receive used clothes from our children's friends and cousins.  We've only bought ladybug Converse, ladybug boots, a ladybug swimsuit, and swim pants for the little man.  (With four pairs of Converse in the house, this is our only brand fixation.)  Imagine the money we have saved by using second-hand clothes from others.  It is also fun to look through photo albums and point out the same clothes on different children.

When my son was born, I received a set of six absolutely adorable socks and mailed three pairs to my friend in Uruguay who was also having a son.  It was such a thrill to see a picture of her newborn son wearing a pair of socks just like my son.  The generosity of sharing our own abundance comes back to us in so many ways.  It is true that the more I share with others, the more I feel blessed by my own possessions.  My friend in Uruguay also gets her son's clothes from friends, but has to fill in gaps with new clothing.

My daughter Hannah's clothes have been through three girls and a cousin from California (delivered on their annual visits) before they arrive at our home in Oregon.  After Hannah wears them, they are shared with at least three other girls before they return to us for storage.  My son Liam's clothes arrive from his cousin in California.  He also wears clothes borrowed from a friend after they've been through three boys and go on to two other boys before being consigned.  With our children, we sometimes asked to receive meals or other wanted items instead of clothes, as we have everything we need, but it is hard to resist the urge to buy colorful adorable clothing for your niece, nephew, or grandchild.  And when most of our clothing is used, it makes the brand new items more special.

A long time ago I used to shop for my own clothing just for fun.  Recently, with my increased awareness about sweat shops and exploiting working peoples and lands of the world, I have stepped away from buying new clothes.  I have friends who like to shop who share some of their used clothing with me.  And when I craved a new clothing item a couple weeks ago, I thought about driving 20 minutes to buy a Made in the U.S.A. product, but discovered a  solution I can feel even better about.  When shopping for second-hand clothes just down the street to hand print for grandparents for the holidays (No peeking, Mom!), I simply picked up a couple things for myself.  Now I have a few practically perfect new clothes added to my closet.

I shopped at Goodwill throughout my childhood before it was fashionable, didn't shop there when it was in style, and now once again can find treasures to cover my body at a second-hand shop.  Before you know it, one day you'll find me satisfying a craving for a new clothing item at a local consignment shop.  I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family and second-hand shops who share their clothing.  My closet may not be bulging, but it feels like it is when surrounded by so many generously sharing friends.