As Christmas draws closer, we're pulling out the family traditions, dusting off the Christmas music, and have finally swung into proper advent mode.
One of our greatest traditions is to handmake decorations for the house and tree. Over the years we've accumulated these treasures. Our advent wreath is made of salt dough, and has been used for 12 years. Our nativity scene is made of felt and cornflake boxes. This year, our Christmas craft is tree decorations made of felt.
We girls all sat down today, with a pile of felt, a neat bundle of threads, and several pattern pieces. All beautiful and orderly. It didn't last long. Soon snippets of felt littered the table, beads and thread covered everything. And in the middle of all this mess we four girls sat, needle in our hands, creating the first craft of advent.
Gemma-Rose chose to make a felt bell, despite not knowing any of the stitches needed. With my help, she soon learnt though, and flew through her work, her needle more sure than mine as she sewed her pieces together.
Sophie wanted to make a bird. Despite knowing how to sew quite well, she insisted on thinking her bird wasn't any good, and left the table as soon as it was done, though she'd sewn her brid beautifully, and without my help.
Charlotte chose the hardest project: a beaded, tasseled hanging ornament. Her needle never stopped moving. Every time I looked over, she'd taken her felt to a higher level of beauty.
My own project isn't finished yet. It's not even original. I decided on the spur of the moment to make a bird like Sophie. Only, when it was finished, I didn't really want to stop. I wanted to make a whole string of them. So far I've made two out of five.
Though there are many nice Christmas ornaments in the shops, which take less trouble to buy than to make, I believe that homemade things are still the best. So many of my memories are bound up in our handmade decorations. Each one is an old friend, used year after year, never thrown out or forgotten. Yes, the factories may make fine decorations, but they'll never beat a felt ornament made with love.