Monday, December 21, 2015

Come, Christmas

I'm not sure about you, but this Christmas elf is ready to hang her stockings and enjoy the holiday!

I have been nonstop sewing/crafting/baking/knitting and making for a week. Hats, scarves, rose petal bath soak, herb salts, handmade soaps (like the oat and raw honey, above), cookies, breads, needlepoint gifts and photo coasters. Yesterday I had three projects working, and would toss one aside when I get stuck or frustrated or sick of looking at it, only to pick up another project and resume it. (Does anyone else do this?) But I'm beginning to see an end in sight. Everything MUST be wrapped by Christmas Eve morning, so the race is on. Oooof.

Not to be outdone, each of the three nonprofits I either run (or am an officer of) decided that this week would be a great week to meet. Do what? I feel like a magic Christmas ninja suddenly. Need an Excel treasurer's report for the beekeeper's association? Sure! Passing out 150 hats and gloves and blankets to the homeless? Absolutely! Want me to file nonprofit corp articles for a state I don't live in by Christmas? No problem. 

Come, Christmas. Come with your sit down-ed-ness and peace and hot chocolate and twinkly lights and food and... chairs. I've never needed you as badly as I do this year. Come, Christmas, come.

Wishing you rest and peace this week, friends. -Brin

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Roses in December

God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.
- James M. Barrie

The roses are blooming here at Hedge House. In December. Such a strange year. Yesterday, I snipped several frothy flowers from the spring-like bushes and brought them in to admire. Roses in December. I'll take them.

I think all but three of the gifts wrapped under my tree this year are handmade. I'll show them to you later this week. I made milk and honey soaps- several scents- with the fall honey from my hive. They're gorgeous! I'm pairing those with handsewn dish towels and... presto gift-o! Whew. And since the roses were so prolific this year, I'm making Rose and Lavender Potpourri and little muslin bags of Rose Bath Tea. Pair those with handknit cloths and we have a simple but sweet gift. And of course, I'm baking: breads with side jars of homemade honey butter (again, from the hive), along with cookies and cakes. Yum! Last, but not least, are the knitted offerings: hats, blankets, and pillows. Oooof. Bring on the last minute Christmas crafting!

Speaking of handknit cloths, there are several Christmas cloths left in the shop that are perfect for last minute giving and stocking stuffers. Order by Thursday and both of us will rest easy that your gift will arrive in time for Christmas. Here's the link. (The Sugarplum Fairy cloths are my favorite this year!) 

Are you making any gifts for Christmas this year? What does your holiday present list look like? Feel free to share. 

Have a cozy Tuesday. -Brin

Friday, December 11, 2015


Many of you responded to the last post with words I didn't expect. Truly. I've gotten emails and messages through Facebook and, with different voices, we all said the same thing: this Christmas is different, somehow.

I was thinking about it last night as I got up from the piano and stood in the middle of the front room and stared at the (still half undecorated) tree. Usually I have presents piled underneath it by this time in the season. But this year, on December 10, I can still see the Christmas tree skirt. And then it hit me: many of us are spending our days in the silent company of loss this Christmas. Just raw, consuming loss. 

It's true. Some are grieving the loss of someone they dearly loved who is now painfully absent from holiday activities and plans. Stockings are missing. A chair will be empty. A holiday will never again be the same... Some are mourning the loss of a job, a career, a sense of stability. Meals will get skipped. Parties and trips will be put off or avoided. Presents won't be exchanged. (There's just no money.)... Others are mourning the loss of a future they were once confident in. A country that held promise and opportunity. Now, the world is unraveling, and there's talk of dreadful, unspeakable things on the horizon... And still others are suffering through a loss of health and wellness. They'll be there, sure, but their family won't know- they can't let the children/grandchildren see- the agony they feel in their bones. The worry of whether this will be their last Christmas. The fear and grief of knowing time is running out and their days are numbered.

Loss is everywhere this Christmas. We're seeing it on each other's faces and feeling it in our own hearts. Times have changed. Life is different.

But oh, grieving and desperate hearts, Hope is coming, and soon we will see Him with our very own eyes.

Because of Jesus- my Hope whose birth was declared by a star... my Hope whose body hung on a tree- I have assurance that this life will one day be nothing more than a memory. I have hope that one day every tear will be wiped away, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. I am convinced that whatever loss we suffer here we'll someday see with perspective and understanding. I believe we'll be the first to admit these days were "light, momentary afflictions". (Can  you imagine? A day when your heart will be so full- and so joyful- that you'll say that without reserve?)

This year, I dragged in the biggest Christmas tree I could find. And I'm decorating it with all the stars I had and can make. Not because I feel merry and holly and jolly this Christmas. I don't. Not amid all the suffering and fear and loss. I did it because this year, because of Calvary's tree, I have hope. I did it because, just as it did 2,000 years ago, a "star" unthinkably appeared in the skies again, declaring that a King is alive and Hope is on its way.

In light of all this- the afflictions... the star... the Hope that this season declares, I'm doing something new this Christmas. I'm wrapping a box of "Christmas cares"- concerns and prayers and griefs and hopes- and putting I'm it at the foot of the tree. The Bible invites us to cast our cares on God, after all, so I'm wrapping them up for Him. And all season long, I'm going to let my cares sit there, at the foot of the tree, underneath the light and the stars, and I'm going to rest in the knowledge that we, too, are secure in the same place- between the cross of Jesus and His glorious coming. Between the gift of His love and the joy of His presence. Between the darkness of death and the light of life.

Wrap your cares, too, if you want. Wrap up a memory. A picture. A letter. A list. Put your concerns or prayers or grief or hopes in a box and wrap them up for Him. And then put it under your tree if you have one... or near a candle if you don't. Take a picture, if you want, of your Christmas cares, and comment here. Or post it online and hashtag it #Christmascares. Together, our silent cares might encourage each other and tell of our assurance in Christ, our reason for celebrating in such a time as this, and our hope that He's coming again to make everything right. Together we can celebrate Christmas this year with tears in our eyes, longing in our souls, and hope in our hearts.

I wish you a Hopeful Christmas this year. -Brin

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Absences and the Wistful Christmas

Finally! Er... hello, you! Anyone out there? Please allow me to apologize profusely for my absence. Blogger decided (for over a week) that I didn't exist anymore, at least until I was able to convince them to the contrary. Login credential issues are finally fixed. Blah. Okay. We're back. And just in time for Christmas!

Ah, yes. Christmas. This one feels so strange to me. Anyone else feeling that, too? It seems like it's showing up this year as if it's uninvited. It's wistful, nearly. Subdued. As if it knows it was included at the last minute, so it's going to stand in the corner and quietly sip a drink and not make eye contact. Or maybe it's just me after the year we've had. Hello, Christmas 2015. Come on in, by all means. Let me give you a hug and introduce you around and make you comfortable so you'll stay awhile longer.

In spite of this being a financially tight year for us, I'm determined to make our first Christmas at Hedge House a calm and memorable one. So yesterday I played Christmas music and sat on the front porch and clipped branches and boxwood. Piles of branches and boxwood. Then I wired them onto a 30" wreath form and ended up with a beautiful, full wreath. For around four dollars. Hello there, wistful, budget Christmas! You look beautiful.

Today I'm baking breads (pumpkin, banana and white wheat) and playing more Christmas music and finishing up a gift for my sister and gluing clothespin ornaments. (Have you seen these? I'm all about how simple and affordable they are!) I'm being forever slow with decorating this year, but plan to have it all up and clean on Friday. Then Christmas and I can sit down catch up... I hope we can, too. Thanks for sticking around and being patient in my absence.

Happy Christmastime! -Brin