Tuesday 11 December 2012

Crafting Memories

Welcome to the December 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Childhood Memories
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about memories of growing up — their own or the ones they’re helping their children create. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Even before starting a family more than eight years ago, I thought a great deal about the kinds of memories I hoped my children would have. Of course I realize that I am projecting my hopes and wishes onto my children, but isn't that what parents do? Some of their memories will be random moments and snapshots, as mine are, but some will be consciously created by us as adults.

Childhood memories seem to be ever present in people's minds this time of year, in the build up to the holidays people celebrate, be it Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, St. Lucia Day, Las Posadas, St. Nicholas Day and so on. As adults we try to recreate the magic we associate with our cultural celebrations through our children's eyes. 

Clear in my mind is the ritual of homemade crafts. My grandmother always knit us sweaters for Christmas when we were young and then blankets as we grew up. My mother continued the crafting tradition and always made at least one present for me and my brother. To this day the most special present she gave to me, made or otherwise, was a homemade Paddington Bear. After all the presents were opened she pointed to an envelope on the tree. Inside was a note that a special friend was waiting for me in the dining room. I ran as quickly as I could and found Paddington sitting on a chair, with the famous tag saying, "Please look after this bear, thank you." As I got older she included me more and more in the tradition of making gifts and holiday crafts. One of my favourite memories of gift making with my mother was in my early twenties when we made amaretto chocolate truffles for everyone in the family. I think we drank more amaretto than we put into the chocolate. 

I continue to value crafting homemade gifts. I want my daughters to associate making things with the celebration because I want them to remember with fondness the time we spent together baking, sewing, painting and the conversations that happened. I want them to remember that in this crazy, busy time of year when we rush around to concerts, parties and shopping, we made time to slow down and make things. I believe that my own children look forward to crafting with me year round and especially at this special time of year.

My little family continues with the cultural celebration of Christmas, but I have highlighted existing Yule rituals and infused an increasing number of new Yule rituals into our December events. This is easy as many of the symbols of Christmas have been borrowed from pagan traditions (tree, wreath, mistletoe, holly, etc). I love the natural elements of Yule; the importance of honouring the beauty of the season, understanding the place darkness has in life and welcoming back the sun. Many of the winter plants are sacred and hold great symbolic importance. I like the natural connection to the earth and seeing everything as interconnected. We cannot just treat people as we would like to be treated, but also all the animals and plants. Everything has it's place and must be used mindfully. 

Many of our holiday crafts involve using natural materials that can potentially be biodegradable when we are finished with them. A favourite of mine that dates back to my own childhood is making pomander balls using oranges and cloves. The smell evokes Christmas memories and loving feelings. Last year my eight year old was able to make her own, which made her very proud. My five year old participated as much as she could and was pleased with her efforts covering most of one orange with cloves. Of course my then almost two year old was mostly content to sit on my lap and knock the cloves all over the floor watch what we were doing.

I love pinecones and always find a way to include them in our crafting. Last year we made pinecone tree ornaments and used them as present toppers for each member of the extended family. 

This year I hope to make felt mistletoe to hang around our home and reuse each year. My plan is to make some felt mistletoe as present toppers for family as well. My girls like having real mistletoe in our home, but this year I will buy it closer to Yule and Christmas as last year it turned brown quite early. I am also going to experiment with dried fruit decorations, which I found on Pinterest (link)

I am currently rediscovering my love of knitting but because I am out of practice, I am limiting myself to making dish cloths and scarves for the family. I am teaching my eight year old how to spool knit and my five year old how to finger knit and so far they love it. Perhaps their efforts will turn into bracelets for their grandmothers. They are fascinated when I knit, so along with their scarves, I will be giving them their first pair of knitting needles.

As a way to highlight important and favourite family memories through the years, we are decorating ornaments with events that have occurred each year so that when we do the tree decorating ritual we can talk about our memories. This year's ornament will include memories of our camping trip to Manning Park, my youngest beginning preschool, my middle daughter beginning kindergarten and learning how to ride a two-wheeler, and my oldest's increasing gymnastic skills.

It is undeniable that today Christmas is associated with Santa and consumerism. My children will be receiving a gift of their choice and so far it looks like they will be something plastic and technology related. I also hope for something plastic and technology related (Lifeproof iPhone case). But I like to balance that with homemade gifts and the time together that homemade creates, because I know that I do not remember most of the gifts I received as a child. I remember the rituals that were important to my family, the time we spend together, thinking about others and how to make them happy. I want to add to that with my own children. I want them to think about how they are connected to the environment and how everything they do, everything they make, has an impact. I want them to think about the waste they create with the presents, packaging and crafts they create, and what we do with this waste. Can the waste be recycled? Or is it possible to reduce what we need to recycle by using natural elements that can be composted? I also want them to think about the impact the environment has upon them; how the seasons change and our behaviour and natural rhythms change along with this. 

But mostly, I want them to remember our love. I hope that one day, should they have their own children, they will think about the memories they want to craft as a family.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Childhood Memories of Peace, Support, Joy, and Love — Amber at Heart Wanderings wants to make sure the majority of the memories that her children have as a part of their family are ones that are positive and help support the amazing people that they are now and will become as adults.
  • Hand Made Baby Books — Destany at They Are All of Me talks about why baby books are important to her for preserving memories of her childrens first years, and shows how she made one by hand for each child.
  • Can your childhood memories help you keep your cool?Here's To A Boring Year uses memories of being a child to keep her on the path to peaceful parenting.
  • Inter-Generational Memories {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about her own childhood memories, and what she hopes her daughter will remember in the future.
  • Snapshots — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings reflects on the ways our childhood memories appear to us, and hopes her own daughter's childhood will be one she remembers as being happy and fulfilled.
  • What makes the perfect parent? — In a guest post on Natural Parents Network, Mrs Green from Little Green Blog reflects on camp follow and camp no-follow...
  • In My Own Handwriting — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about her journals and the hope that they will be able to keep her stories alive even if she isn't able to.
  • Candlelight, fairylight, firelight — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud re-discovers the ingredients for bringing magic to life, especially at Christmas.
  • Making Memories (or) How We Celebrate Christmas — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about creating new memories at Christmas, and the joy their adventures bring to her whole family.
  • The Importance of Recording Feelings and Emotions and Not Just the Experience — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares why she puts pen to paper every day to record more than just her experiences as a mother and her daughter's experiences as a child. Jennifer looks at the importance of capturing feelings and emotions that accompany the experience.
  • Dredged up — Kenna at Million Tiny Things has been forced to recount childhood memories at bedtime, due to the failure of her middle-aged imagination. She resists, of course.
  • Crafting Memories — Handmade is what makes the holidays special for Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs, and she wants to create the same connection with her daughters that she remembers with her mother and grandmother.
  • My Childhood Memories; beacons of light in the darkness Stone Age Parent shares the impact of her childhood memories on her life as a parent today, listing some of her many rich childhood memories and how they now act as beacons of light helping her in the complex, often confusing world of child-rearing.
  • 10 Ways I Preserve Memories for My Children — From video interviews to time capsules, Dionna at Code Name: Mama wants to make sure her children have many different ways to cherish their childhood memories. Dionna's carnival post features ten of the ways she preserves memories; check out her Pinterest board for more ideas.
  • Memories of my mother — Luschka at Diary of a First Child remembers her mother and the fondest moments of her childhood, especially poignant as she sits by her mother's sickbed writing.
  • Creating Happy Childhood Memories through Family Traditions — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why family traditions are so important to her and her family and shares how she’s worked to create traditions for her children.
  • Traditional Christmas Tree — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep remembers the great times spent with her family driving for the Christmas Tree and the lessons learned.
  • Wet Socks and Presents — Kat at MomeeeZen writes about her favorite Christmas childhood memory and why it's so special. And she hopes one day her kids will also have a feel-good memory of their own to look back on.
  • Stuff does not equal memories — Lauren at Hobo Mama learns that letting go does not mean failing to remember.
  • A Child's Loss- Will They Remember Dad? — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about their family's loss of their husband and father. She trys to find answers to the question: Will they remember their Dad?
  • Childhood Memories - Hers and Mine — Jorje of Momma Jorje wished for her daughter the same passions and experiences she loved as a child, but learns the hard way to accept whatever passions strike in her child.
  • Holiday Non-TraditionsErika Gebhardt enjoys her family's tradition of not having traditions for the holidays.


  1. Such sweet crafts and crafting memories! We are also a family that loves handmade gifts - and making them together. We did the oranges/cloves last year for a Yule party - thanks for the reminder, I loved that one!

    1. Yes, the pomander oranges are a great one to set up at a crafting station with kids. They can add as many cloves as they want and move on when they get bored. By the end several balls should be ready (with perhaps some finish up work by adults).

  2. Thanks for sharing your post with us about your Christmas craft traditions and how you keep them up with your own children now. I love some of your crafting ideas, I agree it is so important to spend time with our family simply connecting and making things together.

    1. Yes, connecting is so important. This is the ideal, which in the past week or so has really gone out the window as I try to cram in all our obligations. Time for a family crafting afternoon or evening!

  3. These are such great ideas, Christy! Do you have all these separate crafts pinned so I can repin them? Ha ha! I want to make those pinecone ornaments and the orange-clove pomanders. I remember my friend and I made those for each other in junior high. I've tried to teach my five-year-old to finger knit, because he's very interested in yarn and making things for his grandmas, but he wasn't ready yet; you're inspiring me to try again.

    1. Haha, I currently have 257 pins on my Christmas/Yule board, and probably more before I go to bed tonight.

      Yes, definitely give finger knitting another go. As much as my girls like doing it I am finding it hard to get them to continue on a project longer than an evening. I was hoping they would make a trivet for the grandmothers but as soon as they get long enough for a bracelet they stop and tie it around their own small wrists. Oh well, at least they are enjoying themselves.

  4. What a wonderful way to celebrate the Christmas season, Christy! I have happy memories of receiving knitted sweaters from my grandma, too. I think your ideas about celebrating the Christmas season are awesome. :) I pinned your post to my Kids' Christmas Activities Board at http://pinterest.com/debchitwood/kids-christmas-activities/

    1. Thanks Deb! I will definitely be reading your celebration ideas more thoroughly and pinning for some ideas. You have amazing Pinterest boards!

  5. Wonderful ideas! Thanks for sharing.