Franciscan Spirit Blog

The Gifts of Advent Day 7: A DIY Christmas?

A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
(Isaiah 11:1–3)

Other people much wiser (and more organized) than me start making Christmas gifts during the summer and have lovely handmade gifts for their loved ones on December 25. For these people, a handmade Christmas is a lovely, peaceful experience, one that I admire but can’t seem to emulate. My nephew’s wife used to laugh at me because sometime in mid-November I would come up with an awesome idea for making all my Christmas gifts that year. Once it was going to be sets of notepaper and greeting cards for the family with images from our summer cottage. Another time it was going to be knitted gifts for everyone.

Of course, I never allowed enough time and the great ideas faded away, replaced by a desperate trip to the store in late December to find appropriate gifts.

If you’re a crafty person, it’s hard to resist the urge to have a homemade Christmas. Magazines and Pinterest boards are filled with fun and creative ideas. Parents get sucked into making elaborate seasonal treats for their children’s school parties. When these ideas make us stressful and anxious, or we find ourselves running to multiple stores looking for the right shape pretzels, it’s time to take a step back and ask if it’s really worth the effort.

What started out as a way to make the season less commercial suddenly becomes anything but simple. The answer isn’t “do it” or “don’t do it.” It is, rather, pay attention to what’s right for you and your family this year. And don’t let yourself be swayed by external expectations, whether it’s people you know or those tempting ideas in social media. Trust that you know what’s best for your circumstances. Hear the words of Isaiah: “This is the way. Walk in it when you would turn to the right or left.”

I’m still planning to make an elaborate knitted wreath for my door. Every year I get out the yarn and the pattern but I’ve made peace with only finishing a few knitted ivy leaves and mistletoe berries. I enjoy the process and I know it will get done someday—or it won’t. My celebration of Christmas doesn’t depend on it.

Gifts of Advent | Donation

Take a Deep Breath

This quote from Isaiah could help you hold onto the healthy choices and plans you’re making for the season. If you haven’t made those plans yet, there’s still time. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

A Simple Gift

If you want to get away from the big box stores but know that a DIY Christmas isn’t going to happen, look into some middle ground alternatives. Shop at local small businesses. Support the many craft fairs held in your area to raise money for various groups and charities. Buy from independent artisans on sites such as Etsy. You’ll find unique and interesting gifts for your families and friends and you have the added bonus of doing good in the process.


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