Monday, October 22, 2007

Giving and Receiving

We've just returned from a long weekend in WV. We went because my friend Beth was having a baby shower and since my mother is in CA we had the pleasure of staying with my grandparents, who live next door to the home in which I grew up.

There's no place on earth as comforting to me as my grandparent's sweet house. Although my family life has largely not turned out as I thought it would, my grandparents and their haven in the woods have stayed constant. I'm one of the very few and fortunate people who have a set of idyllic grandparents straight out of a movie. They're among my favorite people on earth, and the only people that these days I can spend time with and feel utterly cared for. I've been needing that kind of connection and tenderness for a long time.

Their home is sacred ground to me, not only because I practically grew up in it, but also because I was married there. See that rhododendron bush in the background behind the little statue? We were married right in front of it.

My grandmother is 4'11" tall and I am nearly 6 ft, and although we are a completely mismatched pair we are alot the same on the inside. Except she is infinitely gentle and kind. Mammy is a gifted cook and certainly the reason I have such an affinity for the kitchen myself. When I think of the tastes of my life I inevitably come back to her food: hot rolls, roast beef, apple pies, biscuits, stewed apples, creamed tomatoes. Many years ago I began to ask her to teach me how to make her food and she would spend hours guiding me through pie crusts and yeast breads. It is painful beyond words to think of my own children not knowing her they way I have, so I'm nearly obsessed with filling their memories with the tastes and aromas of her home so they can always have a connection to her.

Check out her pantry. Pete and I just crack up:

I finished up the quilt just in time for the shower and I think Beth really liked it.

I'm curious.... Does anyone else sometimes struggle with giving handmade gifts? I'm just asking because I feel that my spirit of gift-giving changes if I've actually made the gift. When I make something for someone else I usually don't have feelings that I want to keep it, but what I do struggle with are the expectations I have of the recipient. It's really so unfair, because so much of the crafter goes into a gift, what is an appropriate response? This really isn't about this particular gift because she was totally tickled with the quilt, but any time I give a handcrafted gift, I really do give a bit of my heart away with it. And I suppose in gift-giving, as in love, you need to be careful who you give your heart to. I guess I'm fortunate to have lots of sappy friends who love sentimental stuff as much as I do.

The Handmade Market is in just 2 weeks and I am really working furiously to try to get everything completed in time, so please forgive me if I am Bad Blogger for the next little bit. I'm also hosting a Cut-the-Pumpkin Party for the neighborhood kids on Saturday and haven't even planned a daggum thing. But what could be bad about even a lame Halloween party? Absolutely nothing.


Rose said...

Not sure if this is what you meant but I want the people to whom I give a handknit to LOVE it. And that is unfair, isn't it? Still, I have gotten my feelings hurt by a lukewarm reception. What to do, what to do?

ahna said...

Oh, it looks like your trip was wonderful. I understand the sacred ground sentiment. You are so lucky to have that to go back to. You wrote about your grandmother, and I was instantly reminded of the way my grandmother's kitchen smelled - I miss her. It was a nice remembering moment.
Glad you're back. And as far as giving something you've made - I hope that you will do it with pride. The recipient will know the love with which it was made, and they will love it!

ahna said...

I forgot to mention the rosemaling (sp?) It made me giggle. My Norwegian grandmother used to have lots of wooden trinkets around her home that were painted in a very similar fashion.

Galadriel Thompson said...

The pictures of your grandparents house made even me feel cared for. I feel the same about my grandparents. I do a lot of the same things and use a lot of the same things my grandparents did because it brings me comfort and I think that it will sooner or later offer the same to my kids. I too struggle with my feelings when I give handmade gifts. I worry more that they weren't good enough though. Like maybe I didn't put enough heart and love into it or that the person I'm giving it to could have done a way better job. Anyway, I can't imagine receiving one of your items and not wanting to cry sweet tears of appreciation.

Good luck with the market you giant!

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

So wonderful to have that connection to your grandparents. The quilt turned out so beautifully!! I understand what you are saying about having an expectation of a certain reaction - as my mother says don't give precious things to people who won't appreciate them. Simple. Why hurt your heart with a lukewarm reaction from an otherwaise wonderful friend?

by Johanna Brandvik said...

Can I adopt your grandparents?! Their home is beautiful and I love their predictably stocked pantry. I can imagine how good it feels to be with them. Ahhh...I never had a relationship with any of my grandparents, but am so happy that my children know theirs. It seems a lot easier to avoid the crap with an extra generation of padding in our relationships.

Oh, the quilt! It's so sweet. I don't give too many hand-made gifts, but when I do it's incredibly rewarding...the process of creating something with someone else in mind is a gift to and from myself!

Enjoy the hustle and bustle of the coming weeks! I look forward to reading about the market!

Bethany said...

Reading that made me miss my grandparents! How sweet. Thanks for sparking my memories. Your Grandma sounds soooo lovely.