We’ve all wanted to find that perfect gift for someone. The kind that causes eyes to widen, jaws to drop, and arms to reach out.
I’ll never forget the Christmas my father made me a sailboat out of a walnut shell, toothpick and a little piece of paper folded into a triangle. He put it in a glass jar with some sand, pebbles and shells we collected at the beach that summer. The beach was a sentimental place for us and I had a lot of fond memories exploring the shoreline and sailing with him. They were our treasure hunts and ocean adventures.
That was the Christmas there wasn’t too much under the tree, but his gift taught me it’s not what’s in the box that makes something special, it’s the person handing you the box. It also sparked my imagination and I started thinking about capturing the essence of expression through the creative process.
When I became an adult and friends started having babies, I didn’t want to just give them typical baby clothes. I wanted my gifts to reflect something more personal and intimate, connecting them to their own childhood. So I started reconstructing baby clothes after their favorite books from when they were growing up.
I also started writing and illustrating books to help their kids with various issues they were trying to overcome, be it a fear of the dark and monsters under the bed, to bullying at school. I realized the “art of the gift” could be anything, it just had to come from my hands.
In a world overcome with the latest gadgetry and multiple media distractions, it’s important to slow down and live in real time. Making something from scratch forces us to do that. It requires thought, time and creative energy. It’s not instant like clicking “purchase” in an online checkout. It says, “I’m making time for you,” which so many of us take for granted in our busy lives.
My father took the time to make that tiny sailboat which beautifully captured our cherished memories, and I remembered it long after I outgrew my childhood toys.