Making and Giving
The holidays for a maker and baker can be an inspired though hectic time of year. The build up is worth savoring and the excitement mounts every day of the season! Maybe because I work well with a deadline I love knowing that throughout the season there are countdowns and build ups- to this pop-up, that party, and of course the presents have a 'deadline' too. Most years there's travel too which means most of my final touches need to be ready in advance.
If I didn't bake many different kinds of "only at the holidays" cookie recipes, it wouldn't be the holidays for me! Some of my favorite memories with my Mom and my grandmother are while baking cookies, and especially baking cookies for the holidays. My grandmother had a tradition of offering plates of assorted homemade cookies to all of her neighbors. I remember not only baking those cookies with her and my sisters leading up to Christmas week, but also going with her to deliver them at the neighbors' front doors. All of the cookies that were not given away were taken to my parents' house on Christmas day to add to the huge assortment of homemade cookies already at our house. After the big meal on Christmas day we always pass around a big tray of cookies to choose from, as if the traditional pies after dinner aren't enough. The cookie tray always sits on the dining room table long after we leave the table and I know I am not the only one who sneaks cookies whenever I passed through the dining room throughout the evening.
It has been about 10 or 12 years since I started offering plates of assorted cookies to my own neighbors each December. Every year that I deliver those plates of cookies to my neighbors I feel like I'm honoring my grandmother's holiday baking tradition!
Batches of cookies from past Decembers and some of my favorite old cookie tins:
There is something so special about making things, whether they are cookies, loaves of bread, or homemade jam, or something knitted or stitched, or painted or drawn, or watercolored packaging for saved seeds or a set of collaged notecards. Maybe it's just the fact that it was made with our own hands, maybe because it was made for a specific someone, maybe because you cannot make anything without putting a bit of yourself into it.
Since I happen to have a family who enjoys my ceramic jewelry, I have on many occasions offered necklaces, earrings, and pins as presents. (Is it cheating that I'm able to offer something from my "job" as a present?) But I also make several presents each holiday season that are not jewelry related. And often, like most of my making, these presents get finished barely a day before they're wrapped up and given. Seems I don't understand the idea of pacing myself and making presents throughout the year- the inspiration always comes once the Christmas music starts playing. I guess that's part of the up and down of making and being inspired throughout the year.
This year I am only doing one 2-day, in-person holiday pop-up (that's one more than last year!) which means there are less deadlines throughout the month than in the past. This doesn't mean that this Dec. feels less energetic though. The holidays always bring an exciting energy. When I think about it, all 'deadlines' come with some type of energy and urgency. The holiday deadlines just come with twinkle lights and presents too!
All this to say that though I'm a year-round maker, things get seriously ramped up in late Nov. and go non-stop until Dec. 24th. No wonder I usually have a slow start to the new year! (And more on that in the new year!)
Here's hoping that your holidays are bright whatever you celebrate! Whether you make or buy or bake, whether you donate or volunteer or offer, wherever you are, and whoever you are with-- Happy Holidays! And here's a toast to you and yours!