I am completely bipolar when it comes to Christmas. One minute, I’m joyfully making hot cocoa after an evening stroll to look at lights. The next, I’m bah-humbugging that the holidays are too stressful. It really boils down to one thing- the gifts.
Don’t get me wrong. My boys are two and four year old this year, so I am almost more excited about Christmas than they are. This is the first year that Liam seems to really have a concept of what is going on. He understands who Santa is, he is anxious to witness the magic that is sure to happen on Christmas Eve. Kellen isn’t quite there yet, but he certainly comprehends something good is going to happen and that he wants to be a part of it. It is fair to say we are all counting down the days to Christmas morning.
It’s the shopping for everyone else that gets me down. I wish I was one of those people who has a natural knack for selecting thoughtful gifts. My sister-in-law has this talent. Her gifts always arrive wrapped in such a way that you almost don’t want to open them and ruin the packaging. When you finally break down and tear through the paper, you are sure to be left wondering “how did she know?” But I never seem to think of the right thing. If you really wanted chocolate, I got caramel. Adults are so hard to shop for- they have everything they want, and if they don’t, they usually get it themselves.
Then there is the wrapping/packing/shipping process, which, let’s face it, is drudgery. I know women are supposed to have some innate sense for how to wrap a present, but mine always look like I let my preschooler do it. Maybe I should start letting him? At least then I’d have an excuse. When it comes time to package everything for shipping, I never have the correct size of box, enough packing tape, or current addresses. The process of shipping takes days as I track down everything required to get it done, and ends in a long line at the post office. Yuck!
So when my girlfriend suggested we do a gift exchange among our group, my gut reaction was “NO!” But before I could send off a text inquiring if she had lost her mind, all the other ladies had responded “sounds great” and “how fun!” I couldn’t be a complete scrooge, so I agreed.
The idea was that we would each draw a name and make a gift for that person. We would exchange the gifts at a girls’ night out.
I received my name, B. At first, I had no idea what to make her. Yes, I am somewhat crafty, and could knock out some suitable present. But the reason we decided to have this gift exchange was to celebrate the importance of these relationships. We wanted to take a moment to voice how these friendships are often what gets us through the day. I wanted my gift to reflect that I knew something about this person and tailored it to her.
Luck struck in the form of a text. I don’t remember the subject matter, but I recall B quipping “it’s a witch thing.” I remembered she had a new found interest in witchcraft.
Normally I hear the word witchcraft and immediately equate it with ladies in bad Stevie Nicks ensembles talking as if they had the power of Medusa herself. But I had just read an article in BUST (of course) about modern witchery, giving kind of a beginner’s guide to witchcraft.
The article described how wicca is based on connecting to nature and nurturing the relationships that are important to you. Spells are not expected to produce Freaky Friday results- they are rituals used to place focus on what you are seeking. These were concepts I could get on board with.
Since my friend is a new witch, I thought what better gift than a DIY ritual kit.
Like any modern day witch, I took to google to find what I would need. I found lists of herbs and what rituals they would be used for, as well as a few simple incantations. With the help of a few friends, I collected a nice selection of herbs and flowers to dry. I placed them in glass jars and vials, and labeled them with their properties, including some empty ones that my friend could fill with her favorites.
I wanted to include a few specific items. My front yard boasts two giant rosemary plants. I found a spell to make rosemary blessing dolls. The spell asked me to make a doll out of rosemary, bless it, dunk the head in red wine, then drink the rest of the wine. Any spell that ends with drinking wine is ok in my book. Rounding out my kit were candles and a smudge stick, as I read these are very common to the practice of witchcraft.
When I read that witchcraft is about connecting with nature, I knew I wanted to include something special. On the first mountain bike ride of the season, I stopped on the trail. I had ridden this path many times before, and I knew I had reached the point where the difficult climbs were behind me, and all I had to do was coast downhill.
I love mountain bike riding more than almost any activity. By that point, I was practically bursting with happiness. I wanted to capture a piece of that joy for my friend. I hopped off my bike, and grabbed the first rock I saw. I held it between my hands and whispered “give her all the happiness her heart can hold.” I hope that any time she feels lost, she can hold onto that rock like a talisman and know there is someone who wishes only good things for her.
The thing I want most when giving a gift is to connect with the recipient. I send packages through the mail because I can’t be there in person to share the holiday and give a hug instead. Making this gift gave me exactly what I was looking for this holiday season- a chance to share something significant and let the recipient know how much she means to me.
As I open my gifts a couple of short days from now, regardless of what is inside the boxes, I am going to focus on the giver- how he or she thought enough of me to want to connect this Christmas and share part of the holiday with me. Merry Christmas! Spread Love!