Sometime long ago, when Christmas started, I’m sure the spirit of the season was in generosity and kindness: People would gift each other packages of fresh crusty bread, eggs, a pitcher of heavy cream milk, a bouquet of hand-picked lavender. It would be delivered to front doors in a sturdy basket, and be greeted with an invitation inside – for a cup of tea, for connection. Now we rush out to shops and frazzle ourselves picking something from a shelf, without much thought, or care, or real generosity at all. The gift would not be greeted with an offer inside or a warm meal; it would instead bump up against that wall we call obligation, expectation, consumerism.
I love gift giving. I understand it’s a love language all of its own, but I’m making more of an effort to go handmade this year, because for me it feels good to. Simple things I can craft myself – pillow sprays, beeswax candles, cleaning scrubs, crusty bread loaves, and delivered to neighbours and friends the old fashioned way: The Doorstep. The buzz of shopping centres at Christmas, while fun for the first half hour, can quickly turn to BUY BUY BUY and LOOK HERE LOOK HERE and YOU NEED ALLLLLLLLLLL THESE THINGS and to me, it just feels chaotic. It doesn’t feel mindful at all. And I feel as though it misses the mark of the very spirit of this season as it was all those years ago.
I have a gift list for everyone we are gifting that will require a few different shops, but I want what has been written on the list to be because I’ve put thought and care into selecting it, not bought anything in the shopping frenzy, and to fill up the rest with things we’ve made with our two hands, at home.
Which brings us to…..Lemonade! This is a very easy, very inexpensive homemade gift to make friends, neighbours and loved ones, and your children can participate in making it which helps guide their developing senses of service and generosity.
Throw in a few cute glasses and a sweet label and it can make for a really thoughtful gift. We made two batches for both of Ella’s teachers.
- Dissolve 1 cup of sugar (we used stevia) in one cup of water on your stovetop.
- Remove from heat, add 1 cup of lemon juice (we juiced about 10 lemons to get a cup – the kids can help with this part!) and then add an extra 4 cups of water.
- Have a taste and adjust accordingly – add more water if you think it’s too strong, add some more sugar if you think it’s too sour. You can’t really go wrong here.
- This will make about two pitchers of lemonade as you can see in the pictures above.
We decorated ours with a simple twine tied around the pitcher and a couple of dried oranges we dehydrated in the oven a day or two earlier.
Dried oranges make for beautiful garlands this time of year. We made one last Autumn to brighten up our windows through the darker months, as they act like mini leadlights.
And they can be used in gift wrapping, too, to add a special little touch.
- Just slice your oranges into about a quarter of an inch slices
- Dab them with a tea towel or paper towel to soak up as much moisture as you can
- Put them on a tray lined with baking paper and in the oven on low (80 degrees) for about 3-4 hours.
- Turn them over and bake for another 4 or so hours.
- Just keep checking on them, remove any that look like they are burning, and keep cooking the ones that still have a softness to them. You want them hard and crisp. Allow them to cool before using.
Thread them into a garland for your tree or windowsill and it will look super festive and sweet.
Tomorrow it all begins, and I’ve realised the eves of events are my favourite times. Eves of birthdays and eves of Easter and eves of December, when we’re full of anticipation, full of inspiration to see the magic unfold and be part of its creation. Christmas jammies will lay ready on beds tonight, advent calendars filled, ornaments laid out on tables ready to decorate the tree tomorrow, and as always, I will feel that sweeping flush of thankfulness that I get to do this: with them, for them.
I love this time of year so very much.
Happy December eve, friends.