I made several gifts this year. I always initially think of it as a way to save money...and it always ends up costing more than I think, but I really enjoy making something for someone else with my hands (or in some cases, with my own effort). So here's my run-down of homemade gifts:
1) Can't show you this one, but I made a book for my mom of pictures and narration from her 60th birthday party. It's supposed to be delivered today, so I guess we'll see how it turned out.
2) Parent gifts for my students to give (they obviously helped with these).
The flower pots were donated. The tag is a card drawn by the students with a recipe for preparing the cookie mix that's in a baggie inside the flower pot.
3) Gifts for my students and for new members of the family. I made "gingerbread" (actually a mixture of applesauce, cinnamon, and glue...they smell great, but you wouldn't want to eat them!) ornaments and then glued pictures of my students on them. I haven't yet found family pictures, so these may or may not be family gifts as well. My intention had been to make them for Jacob's class, but I didn't get to that, either. If I don't get cracking, I'm going to have a lot of little gingerbread men floating around!
4) Jar mixes. There are several different varieties...brownies, cookies, cookie bars, rice mix, soup mix, and a couscous mix. I gave these to the other teachers in my grade level and to an aide who works in my classroom for a small part of the day. These are also my gifts for our neighbors and to the siblings whose name we didn't draw in the gift drawing. Incidentally, the green ribbon is reused from a gift I had received earlier that day! ;D
5) Cross-stitch for my mother-in-law. The only possible way this will get completed is if angels work on it while I sleep. I've done plenty of counted cross stitch, but this thing is way harder!
Now that school is over, I can enjoy finishing up the gifts and looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my family. I have been much more relaxed about the Christmas "stuff" this year. I am not where I want to be as far as really having the focus of Christmas being Jesus's birth and God's awesome gift to us rather than what we can give to others, but I have felt more of sense of peace and joy this year, and my giving is much more from the heart than from a feeling of responsibility.
I'm finding that it's so difficult to turn that focus once you're on a set path. We have celebrated Christmas in such a secular way for so long. We set up a manger scene and go to church on Christmas Eve without fail (and have always attended church on a fairly regular basis), but those are the only God-related things that we do. I don't even know how to make Christmas NOT be about presents, not just for the kids but even for my husband. And in a smaller, but still there, way for me, too.
In some ways, I almost feel like it's too late for anyone but Jacob...and maybe even him. I started spending a little time each night reading the Nativity story to Jacob from the Bible and talking about what an amazing gift Jesus was/is to us from God. Hopefully this is something that, the more I talk about it to him, the more I'll internalize it, myself. It's definitely an area I need to pray about.