This I Believe

Joanne - Cincinnati, Ohio
Entered on June 10, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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As I drove south on I-75 heading home after tending to the myriad of details ofr Mum’s memorial service, I was listening to the NPR feature, “This I Believe.” I was listening, but at the same time ai was trying to compose my thoughts about Mum for the bulletin insert. I mentally considered and rejected multiple topics as I rode along with Libby, my Dalmatian, until I settled on one I felt strongly about.

I believe my Mother truly knew the joy associated with creating and giving away handcrafted items. From the time she was a young girl, she and her siblings were punished for their misdeeds by learning to darn socks. Socks in the early 1900s were made of cotton or wool and wore quicly in particular spots, and yet they were still very wearable. My grandmother sat the offending child, boy or girl, in a chair and proceeded to teach them to darn. The socks had been mended and the penitent youngster had been productive.

My Mother took the Domestic Arts course in high school where she would certainly have learned other handwork skills. Also, my grandmother, a dressmaker and upholsterer, could have taught her additional techniques. Thus, from an early age, my Mum did handwork: sewing, knitting, crochet, embroidery, needlepoint, hairpin lace, and crewel. With minimal discretionary money available, she must have figured out that presents for others she had made herself produced a warn, fuzzy feeling inside when given away. Thus, I speculate, she knew, even as a youngster, the joy of giving handmade gifts.

I do not EVER remember my Mother not busily knitting, crocheting, or making clothes for me. And, it was a natural extension of her joyful creativity, that my sister and I learned to do handwork as well. I liked to knit: I made my first afghan at 12 years old. My sister like to crochet: she made and gave away crocheted or hairpin lace handkershiefs that same summer. With each item we completed, we more fully understood how very joyful it was to give to others.

When you give handmade items, it is like giving away a bit of your time, your talent, your very soul; and the warm, fuzzy feelings you receive in return never fade. Mum kept up with current trends and learned to do macrame, decoupage, ceramics, and counted cross stitch; she made jewelry, painted tole goods, and producted a plethora of one-of-a-kinds items that were fun to make and better to give away. Our family and friends have many, many of Mum’s lovingly handmade items.

My sister and learned well my Mother’s lesson as we both continue to engage in a variety of handwork that we give to special people. Mum loved to create special things, but she especially understood that the greater gift is returned to the giver, she was a natural example of the, “joy of giving.” This I believe.