And the Winner Is…

Thank you to everyone who sent in stories of their most memorable handmade gift, given or received. There were a few tear jerkers in there. TLC enlisted fellow artist and friend, Abbie Brandao, to make the final decision. Come Christmas morning, Jana Beznoskova was notified that her entry was selected! Congratulations Jana. What a wonderful secret to let loose. We can’t wait to begin.

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Read Jana’s entry > For our wedding anniversary I wanted to give Zach something what would be a cotton but also what he would carry with him and think about me. So I bought cotton boxer shorts and cotton thread. For a few weeks before our anniversary date I secretly embroidered those boxers with his initials. I used different colors and fonts on each pair. When he received the present he was nicely surprised and touched. I know that he likes them because 4 years later I see those boxers every week in our laundry basket. It was a personal present nobody knew about until now. But what I would not do for winning the competition, when the prize is so great. I am revealing a little family secret. Merry Christmas.

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Read the runners up >

Cindy | When the holiday season comes around it is always so commercial. Green sprayed Chrismas trees not to mention the artificial ones. All the must-have electronic treats. Then a number of years ago when our small chrildren were growing up, my husband and I decided that we had had enough of all the rush-rush and commercialism of the holiday, so we decided to slow things down and help our family respect the reason and the beauty of the holiday – kind of pure it down, so to speak.

All of our children were very young, so we made the decision to keep Christmas simple. We would require each gift that was given to be handmade. Use your imagination. And the gifts we all received were beautiful, thoughtful and reflected the heart of the gifter. I will never forget that beautiful holiday. There was one gift that stands out in my mind. It was a simple small gift from my smallest child Ashley. She was only three or four years old, and what she made me was the most heart melting gift that anyone could have created. She took some paper and drew simple holiday characters with her crayons like Christmas Santas and little elves and stapled them together front and back and then stuffed them with cotton balls. These tiny little images with smiles on their faces and bright blue eyes just walked into to my heart. That is what I really remember about Christmas were those simple days and simple gifts. Why do we need to lose sight of this special day?

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Charles | Since I was very young, my sister had been doodling on anything she could get her hands on with any medium available. I remember she had a particular liking for cats. Drawing her cartoony cats over and over again they began to take shape. As she continued to draw throughout the years; she, as any great artist, began to develop her own unique style in everything she created. It was great to see her talent grow. Seemingly limitless creativity I could never hope to approach. Her favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. At which point her creative juices would start to boil over as she worked many artistic escapades at the same time. Come Christmas morning, I must admit now that the gifts I looked forward to most were from her. Always hand made, always incredibly unique.

They began simple: drawings of cats folded into Christmas cards. But as she continued to mature, her thirst to challenge her creative bounds grew. Cards, paintings, sculptures, poems, the list is as long as our Christmases were shared. Each piece I accepted and studied. Trying to understand how her brain worked. Being musically inclined myself, my understanding of artistic expression required a tuba, a trumpet, a piano, but any attempt I had ever made with ink, oil or paint yielded a laughable product.

Now my sister and I are grown. She keeps after her art while teaching elementary school in Houston. It’s now, in this magical time of year that Christmas takes on a very different meaning. The memories of waking up at 4:30 in the morning, running downstairs and looking at the gifts are just that. Memories. Just being together in the same house, under the same roof means the most to not just my parents anymore but us kids also. Cliché sayings are many things. Over-used, corny, cheesy, they can be agonizing to hear. Mostly though, they’re true. I could never understand why at every family reunion, every thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house, every birthday, my parents and their parents were most thankful for each other. For our health. These lessons seem to be reserved for the age of your first holiday away from you family. When you stray from the religious normalcy of thanksgiving at grandma’s, or Christmas in Tahiti (which would be sweet. We did not do that). I’ve felt the quiet, gripping anxiety take me suggesting that my childhood may, in fact, be coming to a close.

For these reasons, taking the time to create your own gifts for your loved ones becomes increasingly valuable. Cards are wonderful bought from a store, but how often can you look someone in the face and actually tell them how you feel? Speaking in the moment, expecting to gather the words to describe your passion, your love, your appreciation is hit or miss. And I’m betting you will miss. Humans are capable of wonderful creativity. Take a moment, dim the lights, play some music and get back in touch with what you are thankful for. My sister never spent a Christmas thinking about herself. Take the time thinking about the people in your life and dig up your best cliché garbage. I always feel so special, loved and fortunate to receive these words.

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Thanks again for all the entries. And send us pictures of your handmade gems from this season!

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