What was the best holiday gift you have received?

When we’re kids the gifts we ask for are largely influenced by television. I can still recite all the words to My Buddy and feel the sense of loss at never having had one despite the fact that, thinking back, I always thought he was kind of creepy. It sure was a catchy tune though! Aside from the occasional She-Ra Cloud Castle or Popple that we dragged around everywhere (much to our parents dismay) a lot of the gifts from those early years are forgettable.

As time goes on we stop seeing our parents as bringers of stuff and things and begin to see them more the way we see Grandma…as a dispenser of cash. It’s not because we’re greedy. It’s because that’s what we need most at that time in our lives. How will you get through college if you can’t buy coffee and burritos?

This is generally followed by a brief, well-meaning, but delusional stage when we inform our friends and family that all we want for the holidays is their Love. This is a confusing time for many and, while you do mean it, you’re not doing anyone any favors. Your loved ones are going to get you something regardless and now they have no idea where to start. While you run the risk that everyone will take you seriously and you’ll get nothing but Love. That’s great and all but, let’s face it people, Love doesn’t keep the snow from getting under your coat collar and trickling freezing torture liquid down to the small of your back. That’s SCARVES! Scarves do that.

Now that I’m an adult I think I finally get how this whole thing works and, after interviewing some of the awesome vendors from the upcoming Holiday Cavalcade I think I can safely say that all great gifts fit into one of three catagories…

1. Gifts that help us find our way - Jean of Fiber Dance Weaving Studio tells us about the 35mm camera she got in high school, "Having such a great camera allowed me to explore my creativity in a way I never had before. I went on to make photography my career. (...) Eventually, I found my way to weaving, a craft which I believe has many similarities to photography.  Not only is weaving a wonderful collaboration between man and machine (looms do have a mind and a personality of their own) but also, because I never really know what I've got until I pull a woven piece off the loom, there's a good bit of mystery and anticipation involved, as well. So now, instead of envisioning things in black and white and using different papers and chemical processes to achieve my objective, I am working with colors and fibers, and adding a whole new dimension (literally) to my creative process, while continuing a way of life that all started with the gift of a camera."

2. Gifts that make our lives easier - Karina makes tons of cool toys and coloring books for kids in her shop Windows Of Agate, but with all the work she puts into her creations it's got to be hard to find time for anything else. That's why this gift was so spot on, "When I received a standing mixer from my husband the Christmas after my second child was born, I was elated! I was sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, and getting the standing mixer did wonders to my lofty goal of baking cookies for all my neighbors." 

Besides being incredibly thoughtful, and making the lives of the recipients better in some way these gifts share one more thing in common. The third and, what I consider to be, the most important category...

3. Gifts that show us we are loved - Sayo from Sarustar Jewelry says, "my favorite holiday gift to date is a marshmallow robot from my boyfriend. He presented it to me at dinner on our second date, a few days before Christmas and a few days after I had mentioned in passing that I would like to own a marshmallow robot. (I don't remember why I wanted one) Anyway, my marshmallow robot has red eyes that light up while he spins around and around... and he is made out of a marshmallow, and he is awesome."

Find your special holiday gift at the upcoming Holiday Handmade Cavalcade.

Jessica Alpern