It's a Heart-in-Hand Christmas

[Previous Suburban Farmgirl, October 2009 – October 2010]
Have you ever seen the motif of a heart nestled inside the palm of a hand? I love this little image because it captures my heritage so well: I come from a line of women whose hearts lived in their hands. At Christmas, especially, their handiwork fills my house.
A couple of posts ago I wrote about Christmas decorations. Last night we trimmed the tree! Almost every ornament is handmade by 1) These amazing women in my family, 2) My kids (I once wrote a column in praise of clever teachers, Brownie leaders, and Sunday school teachers and the wonderful ornament crafts they think up!) or 3) Other craftspeople (whose ornaments I’ve bought as souvenirs or received as gifts).
Uh, notice my own name is absent from that list?! I can’t make anything! How is it that some people just miss out on the crafty gene?

Not that I let my craft-clutziness stop me from admiring and appreciating other people’s handiwork! To the contrary, I’m agog with enjoyment! If you can make something – anything – I hope you share it with those you love. (I can make words and Christmas cookies but nothing worth hanging on a tree!)
Here’s a quickie guided tour of some of my favorites, closeups from the tree picture above:
This is a star my Gram crocheted, along with the Poinsettia Dancer made by Gladys Boalt (I started collecting her Nutcracker characters years ago when I was charmed by discovering one in a New York City shop…when they were cheap.)
This rocking-horse made from an old quilt is one of my few blue ornaments because it’s my favorite. (I’m partial to red, green, and white on the tree.)
Here’s the beauty of simplicity: A cardboard heart onto which my daughter glued buttons, for a preschool project. (Other great school ornaments: A wire molded into a heart shape and tied with a ribbon, a baked tree (vintage 1994, unfortunately some of the others were bitten into by younger siblings over the years!)
A clothespin doll made by my Aunt Helen (of doll fame from my last post!) and a heart made from an old quilt, like the rocking horse, bought when I lived in Tennessee:
And here’s a grab bag – including (it’s like those I Spy books, see if you can spy them!): A temari ball (child’s toy made from wrapped threads by the mother of my Japanese friend Emi), a cornhusk Santa, crocheted bells, stars and snowflakes (made by my late Aunt Stella and also bought in a Budapest street market), the aforementioned spice-cookie tree, a dyed-paper leaf (another preschool winner!), a tiny gingerbread man, a starfish Santa from the Outer Banks, and more Gladys Boalt people.
As for me, I lack the patience, the eye, and the GIFT of crafting. (Is it a gift, or a learned skill? There’s a good debate. Lazy and easily-intimidated-by-a-glue-gun me says GIFT!) I peaked in the 1970s, when I fashioned these Three Kings out of toilet-paper tubes for my Gram. They’ve lost some crowns, frankincense and myrrh over the years but I haul them out anyway. Because, hey — the beauty of handmade things lies not in their perfection but in the vision and heart that went into them in the first place.
Ah! I thought of one other “talent” I have. In my earlier post about decorating, I neglected to mention paper snowflakes taped to the windows. I can snip snowflakes out of white printer paper – a welcome change from what I usually spend my time doing with printer paper (printing words!). Going to get that project underway soon…
Meanwhile in another clever decorating idea, my uber-talented cousin Dennis used to make and send “Christmas card ornaments,” a different one every year. Here’s 1994 – which expresses my sentiments to you all for 2009:

  1. TJ Kear says:

    Can you use spray glue. Pinecones and other outdoor finds sprayed with glue and sprinkled with glitter and a pretty ribbon. You can make anything you want even if you aren’t crafty. There are recipes for cookie ornaments also. You can do it!

  2. Jennifer says:

    I love your ornaments. Thanks for letting us have a peek!!

  3. michele says:

    I love that you admitted to not being crafty! I love all the Farmgirl stuff, but I am not wildly talented at making things. Nevertheless I do knit scarves for everyone I know (I only know 2 stitches and they look like a 5 year old made them)- I am also VERY good at printer paper snowflakes and I can glue buttons on anything! I can also roll beeswax into candles, and do a variety of crafts that any 3 or 4 year old can master (having been a Montessori teacher for a long time!). Oddly enough I have a reputation as being the person who makes things! Faking it works too I guess!

  4. Vicki says:

    I love your tree and the way it is decorated. I have a box full of homemade or school made ornaments from my kids. I treasure every single one. Every time I put one of them on my tree they bring back wonderful memories.

  5. joanie rutherford says:

    Thankyou for sharing your tree decos. with all of us. I love to craft and have done it for many years. I enjoy seeking out unique and easy crafts to make as gifts for the people I love my family and friends. Merry christmas

  6. carol branum says:

    hi,very cute,Have you ever seen faries made out of orkra,or other items made out of orkra or orkeee as we call it here in missouri.Have a great Christmas,blessed be,carol branum,lamar

  7. Paula Spencer says:

    No I’ve never seen okra fairies but I love how different regions make their native favorites into ornaments…I have an angel painted on a nut, a starfish Santa, cornhusk dolls, and lots of wood carvings…really reminds you of the place you found it! Happy Christmas to all….

  8. mssusana says:

    Your tree is fabulous, and resembles my own, with lots of hand made "kid projects" especially. The toilet paper Kings make me giggle…..I have seen so many projects made of these seemingly useful cast offs, but yours is one of the funniest.

    I have also always loved the "heart in hand" image……..I primarily associate it with Mexican culture…..or maybe I am thinking of my MOST favorite heart which is the flaming heart!

    Though I don’t currently have one listed, I have often made a "Heart In Hand" Floradora Charm Bracelet. This piece features all the Heart cliches and is really fun ~ "bird in the hand", "Lending a Hand", "Hat in Hand", "Hand That Rocks the Cradle", etc.

    If you will send me your address, I would like to send you a favorite Heart in Hand charm!

    Saludos, Susana

  9. LT Arnold says:

    Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I"ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work! 🙂

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