In gifts I gave this year, given in original bags, I placed the following note:
Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas
Awesome New Year and Other Joyous Occasions
This quick note is about the bag your gift in is. I made gift bags this year for many reasons, which I'd like to tell you about, starting with how Christmas was for me growing up.
Yearly on Christmas day my family dug the car out of the snow at five o'clock in the morning. We made the two-hour drive out of the city to my Aunt's beautiful cottage.
My Aunt has a flair for decoration. Her house was immaculate, spotless and free of modern technology. It felt magical, out-of-time, and warm. Her living room sported an old-fashioned roaring fire place, a Christmas tree covered with hand-made bows, angels, ceramic balls, and other baubles.
My Aunt's table was set to perfection, with each piece of silverware “just so” and cloth napkins in decorative ceramic rings. Breakfast was served at exactly eleven o'clock, followed by coffee, tea, stockings, board games, lunch, presents, and then dinner. The tradition of it was wonderful.
The part I cherish most was the presentation of the presents. Each gift was a work of art. Perfect wrapping, shining cloth ribbons, hand-crafted bows, and so on. The tree would be absolutely buried in gifts, labored over through the season.
As a child, I recognized the beauty, the effort, the careful labor, the festive spirit, and the love that went into it all. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.
Carefully wrapped, unique gifts is a tradition in my family.
Yet now, I'm faced with conflicting feelings. I no longer want to purchase “cute” gifts and wrapping papers from corporations that make irresponsible decisions. I don't want trees to be cut down to support wrapping gifts. At the same time, I remember the magic of the Christmas I grew up with, and that beautiful gifts were a large part of that.
And hence, I've decided I want to sew gift bags. Curtains, sheets, shirts – anything no longer in use can be sewn into a reusable festive bag. Also, if other people decided this was a cool idea and made bags of their own and sold them, it could create jobs here in America.
And thus, I found a happy place between my family traditions and my values.
These bags may be washed and dried on the gentle cycle. I have washed them after sewing them. However, a few of them came apart, so those ones needed mending. In other words, most of the bags I've made are for wrapping more than using.
I encourage you to pass this bag on to someone else next year with a gift inside.
If it strikes you as appropriate, you can even pass this little letter on so that the recipient knows the history behind the bag.
Much love and merry holidays.
~ Raederle Phoenix, Holiday Season of 2011