When I was a kid, I used to love to read the Little House on the Prairie books. One of my favorite parts was reading about how they spent their Christmases on the prairie. If you'll recall, if you've read them, they were simple affairs. However, the days were clearly set apart as special in the foods they'd prepare, the music they'd play, the time they allowed themselves to simple enjoy each others company, and certainly in the gifts they gave.

I enjoyed reading the detailed descriptions of presents loving knit or sewn together using materials and special items they'd saved for all year long to make the holiday as lovely as possible. Whatever gift they would make, as simple as it would be, was beautiful to me.

Nowadays, much of our gifts are digital credits for Amazon or another streaming service, technological marvels that the Ingalls' children couldn't even have begun to fathom. Honestly? I love all that stuff, too. Video games, movies, music, gadgets--love 'em.

At the same time, there's something uniquely lovely about a gift that someone who cares for you has created with their own hands and skill. Maybe the older we get, we come to have more of an appreciation for these things. We understand the work and time and planning that went into making those things possible, especially in such a busy age.

The other day, I received such a gift from a friend who lives out of town. She sent me a scarf she'd knit. For me. She knows I'm a "cat mom" so she even went through the trouble of knitting cat paws into it. Along with the gift she sent a hand-written note. A long one. I was quite touched. I can't remember the last time I received an actually long-hand letter. It is a special gift, indeed.

It got me thinking about learning a craft or skill of some kind myself. Again, I love all of the modern gadgets. However, I want to be able to make other people I love feel what I felt. I want them to feel uniquely thought of and planned for. I want to send them words that tell them how I care for them in detail. If not now, when?

There's a unique, incomparable beauty in giving simple, handmade gifts. I hope we, as a society, can return to this tradition. Hey, it doesn't mean we can't give gift cards, too.

Merry Christmas, friends. <3

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