If it's Monday, it must be time for the Small Works Handmade Hinckley Holiday Hall of Fame!

What is bought
is cheaper than a gift.

Portuguese Proverb

If you were hanging around Small Works last year at this time, you may remember that in Hinckleyville there's a tradition started several years ago that requires us to make gifts for each member of the family.

This continues to be one of our favorite things about Christmas. Both the making and the giving have added so much to our holiday celebration, it's hard to imagine just going out and buying gifts (although Lindsay admitted she was daydreaming about how nice and EASY that would be the other day . . . but as always, she came through with the handmade goods.)

In the interest of complete honesty, I must add some fine print at this juncture to assure you, Dear Readers, that our handmade gifts deliver their festive fun AFTER Santa has already delivered his bounty -- we have yet to attempt a Christmas in which the handmade gifts are the ONLY gifts given, and I confess that some family members (myself included) would probably feel less giddy about the tradition if that were to be the case. Like I said, just a little Christmas Complete Disclosure.

Lindsay made a gift for all to share, and if her parents weren't so OLD and OUT OF TOUCH (my indictment, not hers) we would not have had to ask what a "SIM Hinckley House" might be.

Chelsea and Hannah were on board immediately, of course, but even without fully understanding its context, I found it to be absolutely delightful.

Each member of the family unwrapped a portion of the house along with his or her playing piece -- then we worked together to assemble all the pieces.

Hannah standing upstairs in her bathroom.

The detailed drawings of our home's interior are amazing, right down to the paper towel holder on the kitchen counter (and the pile of towels/clothes on Hannah's bathroom floor!)

Lindsay and I in the kitchen.

I am already looking forward to playing with the model Hinckleys when the real ones are far, far away and Cooper and I are rattling around this big house together.

Jake and Chelsea hanging in the basement, while Russ takes the recycling to the garage.

Hannah outdid herself this year, providing hand-knit cowls to chase out the chill for each member of the family (sorry no pic!) and something special to warm Russ' head as well, when he's out on one of his daily adventures with Cooper:

From Hannah's Vintage Screwball
(one of my favorite design labels)

I received a pair of earrings I've already worn three times. I love them because they are lightweight for my aging ears, yet big enough to be really fun.

And finally, she concocted a trio of "Panic Attack Dogs," complete with plump red panic buttons, for Lindsay and Chelsea and me. The backs are a "panic of patchwork", as Hannah describes them (in vintage fabrics!) and since we are often prone to hysterics around here, they should come in quite handy.

Chelsea muted some of her lovely Vermont nature photos, printed them on watercolor paper and embellished them with colored pencil. There were autumn leaves for Hannah and a fuschia for Lindsay, and I received this one, beautifully matted and ready for my studio:

For Russ, she decided to add to her skill set by purchasing a woodburner -- and with a little practice, a rugged wood slab, and only a few minor owies, she was able to produce a wonderful western decoration destined to win a spot of honor in his den.

It will look just splendid with his grandfather's saddle. And I'm glad to know we've now got an experienced wood burner on staff, in case a future wood burning emergency should arise.

I gave the girls each one of my new collages, and was delighted to be able to do so! I also made them each a stitched and beaded pickle ornament, which ended up looking quite silly:

I've been looking for a pickle for them for years, since the hidden pickle ornament tradition has been a long standing one at our house, but I've never been able to find a tiny one like the one we have. So I traced it (in an attempt to get it just right) and made them myself. A little goofy, but they will do the job. And the girls were excited to be equipped to take the tradition to the next generation.

For Russ I made an apron to wear during his celebrated crock-pot adventures:

When he opened it, he had no idea I made it, and wondered how I found one that suited him so cleverly. But he set it aside quickly and went on to the next gift.

Eventually I figured out that he thought I bought it and I was a little hurt (I had thought I was being very clever, as well!) but when he complained that my things never looked "homemade," I filled him in on the wonders of iron-on letters from Michaels. Very little magic involved in this year's gift, unfortunately, due to a very busy month.

Russ got even sillier this year (which was difficult after last year) and made some embellished toilet bowl brushes, which he gave the girls with the declaration that he is finished cleaning their bathrooms (yes, my husband does bathrooms. And that's not his only selling point!) I couldn't get a good picture, but each had a stuffed dog on the handle (Lindsay's was a beagle, of course) with a bow around its neck.

To me he presented a lovely framed map to my favorite destination:

A funny little gift but it brought a tiny tear to my eye.

A few weeks ago we were sitting in a meeting and the speaker asked us to close our eyes and imagine that we were in our "happiest place," peaceful and relaxed and surrounded by the people we love.

After a moment Russ leaned over and whispered, "Where were you?" and I answered, "At Gabriel's." "So was I!" he said, and we giggled. After another minute he asked, "Where were you sitting?" "On the patio," I replied. and of course he said, "Me too!"

So it was a doubly sweet gift and one that I will treasure -- a map to my happiest place. Although I must admit that we weren't alone at the table; in my imagination all my favorite Hinckley girls were there, sharing an enormous bowl of guacamole.

And if I'd been given more time to think about it, we'd probably have been opening handmade Christmas gifts in between bites, as well. Because that would truly be a perfect day in a perfect, perfect world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

"The only gift is a portion
of thyself."

Thanks, dear family,
for another year of wonderful "portions."


VO said...

Best post ever.

susan m hinckley said...

Thanks, VO -- I hope you had a wonderful holiday as well!

I owe a little apology to Chels for leaving out her splendid woodburning when this post first arrived -- it was hidden amid the Christmas detritus, but certainly not forgotten.

Amelia and Justin said...

I love living vicariously, through this blog, your Christmas present exchange. It has always sounded like so much fun!

Did Jake not participate this year? Or did he help out with Chelsea's present?

susan m hinckley said...

Jake did not participate this year, although he was on the receiving end of some of the gifts. He was pretty busy trying to maintain his stellar gpa in chemistry (so it was an excused absence).

And he has since redeemed himself by making an amazing batch of English toffee -- now that's the kind of son-in-law I'm talkin' about!

whimseycreations said...

Oh Susan, you lucky lucky girl! What fun you must have had and I only wish there was someone besides me in my family who did handmade (well there could be but they don't). I just LOVE the hat!

angelesnjones said...


abi said...

so fun!!! love the ornaments too, btw! A very great contribution to the ornament stash by the Hinckleys. Although, Zane managed to get a hold of yours and changed Santa's ho ho ho, to oh oh oh as a "trick", before John saw it. John thought it was weird you would have messed up like that. I'm afraid it will ruin it to change it back.

You must look at the video I posted today, it involves the christmas CD. Very funny.

The word today is : nonart. I'm sure it's not a reflection on this particular post. ;-)

susan m hinckley said...

Funny, funny Zane! I already enjoyed the video, and thank you for it. (The ornament is much better with Zane's touch anyway, I'm sure. I should probably give him a few minutes alone with everything I create.)

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