Two and a half years ago my maternal Grandma passed away. Amongst all of the comments and memory sharing there was one thing that really stuck with me. It was when my sister said, "There won't be anymore Grandma boxes." It didn't really sink in until later what that would be like. It's been two years, soon to be three, without getting that big box in the mail. These boxes where unique.
First you should know, my Grandma and I shared our crafty, creative side as well as our love for thriftiness. She couldn't pass up a yard sale and I have many memories of sorting through piles of other peoples stuff finding our own little treasures tucked away in there. I still think of her every time I see one of those hand written yard sale signs!
So, back to the boxes. They were always unique. Grandma didn't give big, expensive gifts that no one really needs. They were always practical gifts. Things like teddy bears, and handmade blankets for the kids. Also simple toys like rattles, and secondhand clothes that always seemed to be perfect. For the grownups there would be things like dishtowels (many of which I started receiving when I was 16 and still have), manly things for the men, like knives. Growing up my sister collected carousels and I collected porcelain dolls and clowns, so she would send things like that too. Most of my dolphin collection came from her as well. There were staples that you could always count on, like sugar free hard candy, and thin mints.
It was amazing to go through those boxes and to see the frugal way she would wrap things. One of her favorites was using empty cracker boxes. For my son's first Christmas he got a big teddy bear wrapped in a hand sewn red plaid blanket. And when I say hand sewn I mean HAND sewn, not machine. Every little stitch made by her. Another of his gifts was wrapped in a fabric panel she had hand sewn... he's had it up on the wall in every room he's had. One year he got a pillow with a hand sewn pillow case, the next year he got the matching blanket.
So this year I've decided to pick up where she had to leave off and start a new tradition. I think every one should receive hand made gifts. I believe it is one reason I adore giving and receiving handmade gifts. We are not a religious family. Christmas for us is about family, love and thankfulness. It's about being together and being glad we have each other, even when we're hundreds upon hundreds of miles away. So much of Christmas is giving but a part of it to me is also receiving a little piece of those who love you. For my sister, I'm doing my own "Grandma Box", an "Aunt Amber Box" I guess. Maybe, just maybe, you could start this too. Give handmade and practical gifts. Put your heart into it. Give something that brings tears, and will be loved and create a wonderful memory every time it's seen for years to come.