Friday, November 19, 2010

Handmade Holidays in our Family

Our family has always celebrated all things handmade. This is a tradition that my mother started. Growing up, for Christmas I always received a doll with handmade clothes from my mother. Later, as I got older, she made clothes as gifts for me too.

She drew her own patterns and  made turtle pillows, Raggedy Ann dolls and clown dolls for her grandchildren in Florida. One of these Raggedy Ann dolls still sits in my sister's kitchen in Orlando in a vintage highchair. Mom made fluffy comforters for all of us one Christmas. Our mom also made ceramic gifts like cookie jars and animals which we cherish now too. When she was 70 years old, my mom started painting and these were shared as gifts. I have two of her paintings hanging in my home today.  The snow scene above is her painting of the farm where we lived when I was in grade school.

I live in Florida now, a couple of hours from my sister, Shirley.  We continue to have handmade holidays. Our Thanksgiving table each year has a centerpiece of gold, green and brown silk flowers and leaves, one my sister and I made years ago.  Our cookies, cakes, pies and the special cranberry relish are all handmade by our family too.

Our family creates wonderful handmade gifts and decorations for Christmas. They all share their talents through scrapbooking, sewing, embroidery, wood carving, art and decorative painting. When I first moved to Florida and joined in the Christmas activities with my sister's family, I decided to give everyone a Christmas tree ornament each your - over 30 each Christmas. For many years I've painted round glass Christmas balls to give as gifts for our family. Each year I designed and painted a different glass ornament. I love seeing my handpainted ornaments with angels, birds, Santas and reindeers on the Christmas tree in my sister's home. Last year for the children, I made little plush teddy bears sitting on a wooden block as their ornament.  The grownups got Christmas fortune cookies too, with happy fortunes of course!

I've also given handpainted Christmas gifts like a big rock painted into a turtle and this rock painted into a basket full of puppies.

My brother-in-law, Charles, is a woodcarver and each year gives every adult in our family a beautiful handcarved Victorian Santa. My sister paints each one carefully with lovely colors.  Everyone in our family cherishes their Christmas Santas from Charles and Shirley. One year I received a handcarved cowgirl doing a country dance, one year my gift was a carousel horse and one year I received an American Indian bust.  Last year Charles also made each of the ladies in our family a beautiful musical jewelry box from maple, cherry or oak wood.

My niece, Susan, is a wonderful seamstress and also does beautiful machine embroidery. One year she gave me a unique denim shirt for Christmas - covered with westie dogs, in honor of my own little westie, Samson. The westies on my shirt are celebrating the Fourth of July and having a picnic! 

I can't share with you the gifts I'm making for this Christmas, as my family visits my blog here, but I promise to post photos after Christmas. Hint: dogs and more painted dogs. 

I believe that handmade gifts are truly gifts from the heart. Something that someone made just for you is far more special than a purchased gift because it's one of a kind and made with love. Why not share your love in a new way and try making something unique to give away this Christmas!

Wishing you a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!
Linda Harbin


  1. What a fabulous tradition that your entire family can participate in. I love your Mother's painting, feels so much like "home" to me too, when I lived in the Midwest!

  2. LindaML ~ wonderful blog! And how wonderful to grow up in a family so immersed in making things by hand. I loved reading about and seeing some of the wonderful gifts that were shared. You've inspired me. I'm making winter hearts, quilted ... think I'll make one for my daughter for Christmas. Thank you again.

  3. What a wonderful tradition! You certainly have a talented family!

  4. What a talented bunch your family is! I remember your handmade fortune "cookies" from last year and also those adorable teddy bear block ornaments! Those hand carved Santas are exquisite.

    Loved your post. Thanks for sharing.

  5. All those wonderful ornaments and Christmas decorations must bring back so many precious memories - what a lovely idea!

  6. Wonderful talent! I look forward to seeing what you've made this year, once you can share!