Scene from a Christmas Village

Around here, a lot of crafting goes on. Not just Mama crafting. Kid crafting reigns supreme, both guided and unguided. Around here, the words “Whatcha doing?” are often followed by “Making something” in one form or another. Painting, colouring, cutting, glueing, folding, building, assembling, molding… any way you like it, if it involves making something with your own two hands, we might have tried it. If we haven’t, we definitely want to add it to our list of things yet to do.

Crafting is a long-standing tradition in my family. Both my grandmothers had a tendency to make things. One of my grandmothers quilted and sewed and embroidered and baked and gardened and made little pieces of doll furniture out of strawberry baskets, felt, and stuffing. More recently she has taken up rug hooking, and I am in awe of the gorgeous rugs she produces. They are nothing at all like the latch hook kits of my childhood — these rugs are dense, pebbled things of beauty that give your fingers the itch to touch and your toes the wary feeling that maybe these rugs are too pretty to stand on.

My other grandmother, Dad’s mother, was also a gardener, and she had the uncanny ability to find four leaf clovers everywhere she went, but when I think of her, and of my visits to her house, what I remember most is the back room with the kiln and the long shelves full of ceramic pieces waiting to be painted and the immense courage it must have taken to let a clumsy young girl loose in there with a paintbrush and a pot of glaze or three.

This Christmas, as I set out the pieces of our little Christmas village, I paused for a moment to remember her, for the massive tree that graces our village was something that we made together in that back room of hers one year. The ornaments are little plastic balls, some now coming loose and desperately in need of a little dab of glue to secure them, but when the sunlight hits them just right, they glow as brightly as any electric christmas light ever did, white and yellow and blue and red and oh so cheerful against a backdrop of dark green branches, albeit shiny hard ceramic ones.

The ceramic tree in the middle of the village

It’s funny how such a simple thing as sunlight shining through plastic can bring back a wealth of memories and a rush of love both given and received through the simple act of creating something lovely together.

May we all have many such moments this year.

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