I had such a lovely day last week – a friend needed some help on her allotment so I went along with my trowel ready to lend a hand. I never need much excuse to be in the garden; I’m convinced that being outside in the fresh air is spiritual therapy for everyone – just think how great you feel after a day out anywhere – so gardening and my friend’s good company was just my cup of tea! Of course it rained at lunchtime, so we sat in the greenhouse, surrounded by tomato plants and lavender cuttings, ate sausage sandwiches which my friend cooked on her camping stove and listened to the rain on the roof – bliss!
My friend loves to make gifts for friends and family so it wasn’t long before we started talking about Christmas presents. Yes, I know it’s only June, but read on and you’ll see why! This year, my friend intends to make hampers with the fruits of her allotment – elderflower champagne, jams, flavoured oils, pickles and chutneys – and many of these have to be made when the crops are ready. My friend could easily buy these items, but she enjoys giving a present that she has made herself and as she is excellent at making them, they are always well received!
My home made gifts tend to be woolly ones. I’m an avid knitter and it’s tradition at Christmas in our family now for everyone to have a new pair of knitted socks. Socks at Christmas? How boring, you say! But there’s nothing quite like a pair that’s been hand made. I love to spend time choosing just the right colours and pattern for whoever I’m knitting for and I know that they will have a gift that is completely original. My brother, astounded when he put on his first pair to discover that they fitted perfectly, exclaimed “They could have been made for me!” – and of course they were!
Christmas has the potential to be more stressful than ever this year. With so many ‘things’ that we can buy, so many ‘must have’ gadgets and everyone feeling the pinch in their wallets, it may be time to think about alternatives. It’s easy to forget what Christmas is really about when you’re bombarded with TV and newspaper adverts, but it’s not just about what you get. It’s about what you give as well – and it doesn’t have to be huge or expensive.
This year, I’m going to give the jams and the chutneys a try. We may not have an allotment but our garden still produces enough to share, and whilst it might mean thinking about Christmas at a time when we’d rather be thinking about holidays, I don’t feel that’s such a bad thing. When big daughter was the same age as small daughter is now, she had a story book in which one of the characters announced ‘A home made gift comes straight from the heart’. Now that’s something that money can’t buy.