Friday, December 26, 2008

Homemade Grab Bag

This year, the Iwanski family decided to do a Christmas grab bag with homemade gifts.

Given the fact that I have virtually no talents to begin with, I had no idea what I was going to make. I had Iwanski’s sister, Donna’s, name—and I wanted to do something nice for her—but what to do, what to do? I’m not especially crafty, and I don’t do woodworking, sewing, photography, or cooking. So what on earth could I give her?

So I thought and thought. I guess I could write her something—perhaps a poem would be nice. But I couldn’t just give her a poem for Christmas! I envisioned her sister and other family members spending hours building beautiful wooden items or sewing soft, cozy blankets…and I was freaked out. What could I possibly give her?

Then I remembered something from long ago, tucked down deep inside of me—my inner baker! I remembered when I was a pre-teen, spending hours in the kitchen making cookies or my favorite brown sugar bumps (okay, so those don’t have to be baked, but still—they at least have to be mixed). I used to really like baking. And then I thought, there is something else unique about me as compared to Iwanski’s family. I’m from the land of cheese and beer and Friday fish fries! Somehow I had to think of how to incorporate my “Wisconsinness” into the gift. So what did I do? I decided to bake treats from Wisconsin, the cookies and bars that my Mom used to make when I was just a wee little thing.

It was a frigidly cold day, last Sunday, when I decided to do my baking. While temperatures outside climbed INTO the single digits (with 30-below wind chills), I donned an apron and began to whip up batches of my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies, lazy daisy bars, and farm cookies. The warmth from the oven caused our windows to fog up, as I whiled away the hours measuring ½ cups and tablespoons, and dropping batter by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets.

And I loved it. I really did. I was so surprised at myself, and I silently thanked Donna for unknowingly helping me rediscover this part of myself that I had long since forgot about. And the cookies and bars themselves? Well, they certainly met with Iwanski’s approval, as he tasted them and said “You know, you can do this more often.” And they really did taste like the treats my Mom used to make. Yummy!

So long story short, I think Donna liked her treats, and the poem that I had written and framed was received well—except for the part where I got her wedding date wrong—doh! (Yes, I had asked someone to verify the date, but she had mistakenly given me the wrong one. I promised to send Donna a new copy of the poem with the correct date.)

And as for the gift I received, from Iwanski’s brother-in-law? Of course it involved some beautiful woodworking and sewing! Doh! But it was so very nice, I didn’t care. He (with a bit of help from his wife) gave me a nice shelf/coat rack with hooks, an extremely soft, warm fleece blanket that I love, and a “zen garden,” complete with a basket, sand, candles, a journal, and a CD that he had burned with songs specifically chosen for their “zen-like” qualities. It was all so wonderful and so “me”! What a great gift!

The other homemade gifts that were given were also wonderful and unique—just like the people that gave them. My favorite Christmas gift of all, though, was getting to spend time with these people who had given so generously of their time to create these one-of-a-kind gifts that will probably always be remembered.


Mathman6293 said...

Homemade can be so much more meaningful.

Maria said...

All I can say is that I am truly grateful that I did not have to do the homemade gift thing because I would have truly been the cheese that stood alone...

Citymouse said...

That sounds like the perfect gift exchange!

MaryRuth said...

Right on--that is what Christmas is supposed to be about.
Baking is therapy, you know. Play your Zen CD next time you make some cookies.

Buck said...

I wanna see you in an apron!

Leah said...

What a great, great, great idea!
I wanna copy all of the Iwanski traditions for next year....Please write a booklet.

Daisy's Mom said...

Personally, I think the poem you wrote was one of the highlights of our exchange. I loved the way you incorporated so much of Donna into that poem. Believe me, writing something like that takes talent, time and lots and lots of love.

It was fun. (and I am so sorry about the date mixup...Donna knows I am a goof when it comes to her wedding date... I take all blame)

Miss Healthypants said...

Mathman--you got that right!

Maria--you are such a great writer, anyone would be lucky to receive a written gift from you. :)

Citymouse--it sure was! :)

Mary Ruth--I think you're right about baking--I will have to try listening to the Zen CD next time I bake. :)

Buck--I only wear an apron because I'm such a slob--I must have wiped my hands on it fifty times while I was baking. :)

Leah--you are too funny! :) Next year, we are talking about doing a "used" gift exchange--items that we already have or that we buy second-hand. Fun! :)

And thanks so much, Daisy's Mom. :) That's so nice of you to say! And don't worry about the date--it just gave us all a laugh! :)

Sling said...

What fun!..Everyone secretly likes cookies best you know. ;)

Anne said...

My mom used to do the cookie thing every year when I was a kid, my favorite were the bourbon balls. I just don't have the wherewithall to follow those footsteps now that I'm a mom of my own.

I'm glad Donna liked your treats!

Danny Wanny said...

I think a homemade grab bag sounds like a great idea; even the very crafty are better off doing something that the recipient will admire, and that may take them out of their pine-cone wreath-making.

Cookies and a poem are both very sweet ideas. Literally and figuratively, respectively. Coat rack, check. But Zen CD? Was that homemade? Om-made, sure, but...

I have given gifts of poetry in Xmases past, because I was so po' I couldn't even afford a second o and an r. I'd like to say the recipients were as pleased as yours. It might be a result of your poem being nice, and mine being mean, like everything else I do.

Lorraine said...

I am so very impressed. Also, hungry.