Sometime in the late 1980s, we got fed up with the Christmas mall experience with the scramble to find, purchase, and give a gift just like everyone else was giving, and then have it returned. Rick’s mother also went through the same thought process. As a family, we decided that we would make gifts instead of buying them. That way nobody could return them. In fact, mom had been knitting sweaters for everyone in the family for years. After a couple of years, the process became a lot more formal and we went through a lottery process on Christmas night for the next year. Everyone (Rick has 6 siblings plus their spouses) was free to decide whether or not they wanted to be in the lottery, but if they did, they were committed to making homemade gifts.
One of our goals each year was to build something that required a different set of skills than we had used the previous year, or to improve on a skill previously attempted. With the need to learn new skills, we always had to leave a lot of extra time. Our planning always started in January. We would usually start with an idea, acquire any necessary tools, and then start working on the craft. As would be expected, there would almost always be failures because it was the first time making that item. We would read the books, but we would almost always think that we had found a better way to do something, and sometimes we were right. Of course, once you start to master the skills required for a craft, then you don’t need to go to the mall for birthdays, weddings, housewarmings, bar mitzvahs, graduations, etc.
Several years ago, Rick’s mother passed away. It quickly became obvious that she was a driving force behind keeping the exchange going. The lottery wasn’t held after that, although we’re still not going to go to the mall (much). Crafts to us are therapy and a diversion from our technical “day jobs” in the computer field. Also, being recent empty nesters, we’re finding more time to pursue our passion for making handmade crafts. This passion for doing crafts led us to the Chester County Craft Guild where we met a great group of people and got advice and encouragement for our craft business. We are proud to be juried members in woodworking, jewelry, and basketry.