45 degrees off

Seeing the same thing from a different angle.

Finding Joy in Christmas Crafting

Crocheting gifts for my sister’s children has become something of a tradition for me over the past few years.  Whatever gift-giving holiday you celebrate at this time of the year is probably supposed to be about just that… giving. Not necessarily buying. If buying the gifts works for you, go forth and shop! Sometimes we all just get too caught up in the buying.

I suffer from Chronic Grinch Syndrome. I hate Christmas every year. Hate it with a passion. Not because I hate what the holiday should be, but because I hate what we’ve turned it into. My heart shrivels up somewhere between Halloween and Thanksgiving and I start to resent everyone who is looking forward to Christmas. I force myself not to make rude gestures at bell ringers. I’m disgusted by other people simply because they are enjoying the holiday.

I call it “Chronic Grinch Syndrome” because, like a chronic illness, it gets better and then comes back the next year.  And my turning point comes when I remember what the Grinch learned.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

— Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I was blessed with grandparents who lived until I was almost thirty years old. After more than fifty years together, I guess they just couldn’t be apart. We lost my grandmother the week of Thanksgiving in the same year that we lost my grandfather on Memorial Day weekend. I’m sure that’s part of how my Chronic Grinch Syndrome developed. The holidays just haven’t been the same without them. It was never the presents that made it Christmas. Just as Christmas can come without packages, boxes, and bags, it didn’t feel like Christmas was really coming anymore even with them.

The holidays really never will be the same in my family, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a joyful time again. My sister’s children have added a lot of joy! I get to experience the other side of things now. Instead of being one of the kids, I get to see their faces light up! Christmas comes because they giggle it into being. The presents are just something we adults use to trigger it.

They don’t exactly get “normal” gifts from me. Pictured above is Chubi the Cuddly Chupacabra. You won’t find a pattern for him. I put together and modified a couple of basic doll patterns for Chubi, then modified a pattern for a mouse to make the goat. Unlike others of his kind, Chubi loves his goat friends and would never hurt them!

I sometimes worry that the gifts I give don’t match up to the toys they have that come from stores. That’s an adult worry, though. It’s about trying to “keep up” and has nothing to do with what Christmas is about. My sister tells me they love the toys. I crocheted toy food for them last year (How is anyone supposed to have a decent tea party with no food?) and loved watching my nephew run around using one of the carrots to tickle people.

Cookies from the set of crocheted food.

You can find the patterns for the food. They came from the book Tasty Crochet by Rose Langlitz. This year, I’m making a stacking toy for the newest member of our family, and his older brother and sister are getting crocheted versions of the plants from the game Plants vs Zombies. The plant patterns came from Deadcraft, and I recommend her patterns for beginners who want to make some awesomely geeky stuff! The instructions are well written and have very helpful pictures.

It’s not really about not spending money. Many patterns cost money. Materials cost money. When it comes down to it, though, I get more joy out of spending my time purposefully creating a gift with the kid I know is going to get it in mind than racing around town to grab things off shelves and stand in long lines.

If your inner Grinch has taken over and made the way you approach the holidays something you hate, maybe it’s time for a different approach.


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