by Melissa Mall
I was raised in a family that made a lot of things. As a child, I slept under a quilt made by my grandmother, in a bed built by my father, wearing a nightgown sewn by my mother. You would have been hard-pressed to find a room in our house that was completely bare of handmade items, and that’s how we liked it. Jars of mom’s jam lined the shelves in the kitchen cupboards. Figurines made by grandma decorated the buffet in the dining room. Paintings done by sisters and uncles hung on the walls of the living room. Even the mantle above the fireplace and the stairs up to the second story were built by hand.
Originally, of course, making things at home was a way to be thrifty. ‘Store-bought’ clothes and toys were expensive, and so sewing your own dresses and making your own dolls was just good sense – if you had the skill. Over time, pre-made, mass-produced products have become cheaper and cheaper, often to the point that a finished product will cost less than the materials to make something similar at home. While it is certainly still possible for making things by hand to be an economical option (for example, my grandmother made a quilt for my wedding pieced almost entirely out of the sound parts of denim jeans that had worn out) the major reasons for making things by hand have changed since my grandmother was young.
Even as a child, I knew that my mother made things for me because she loved me. Yes, the homemade birthday cake was cheaper than buying one from a bakery, but no one spends two hours painstakingly piping a frosting mermaid just because it’s the inexpensive way out. It was special, and my mom taking the time to make something for me was one way that she showed me that I was special.
Through the years I’ve spent a lot of time far from my loved ones, but the handmade items that have moved with us have kept them in our home. Whether it’s the quilt that my grandmother and I made together, the cross stitching brightening the wall, or even the cutting board that my great-grandfather made, each time I see them I am reminded of the time spent pouring love into something useful. It’s something that’s important to me.
As a parent, I’ve tried to incorporate handmade items into my own family’s traditions. I want my children to have the same kind of memories that I had, and to know that they are worth the time it took for me to make special things for each and every one of them. Perhaps someday they may pull out a blanket or a baby hat that I made for them and tell their children or grandchildren the history of their handmade heritage.
About the Author
Melissa Mall is an at-home mom with four sons and a new baby girl! They have settled in to a quiet (or “quiet,” if you like) rural life in Missouri and are enjoying doing things like gardening and keeping chickens in the backyard. You can keep up with their ordinary adventures over at her blog, or take a peek at her crochet patterns and tutorials at Inner Child Crochet.
Article © Melissa Mall. All rights reserved.