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Homemade Christmas

December 18, 2019

At the beginning of December, the questions start: “Have you got all your Christmas shopping done?”

This year I can confidently say, “Yes, I have.” But, that doesn’t mean I’m ready for Christmas. In fact, at the time I’m writing this, I’m a long way from being ready. When I say I’ve completed my Christmas shopping, it’s because I was shopping for lumber, and latches, and nails, and a brad nailer, and paint.

This year I decided to make Christmas. My family does the “draw names” method of choosing who to give presents to. It works well. No one knows who has which name. Well, that’s not exactly true. My lovely wife keeps track of the names. We’ve used this method for years and a couple years ago we decided the kids were old enough to keep track of their own names.

That turned out about like you’d expect. Some kids got double presents, some got none. She now keeps track of all the names. Because no one knows whose name I have, I can work on presents out in the open. Even if they know what I’m making or what I buy, they don’t know who it’s for.

This year I’m not only making a gift for the person’s name that I chose. I decided to take some time off work and get a little crazy in the Santa’s workshop department.

I have six beautiful grand-babies. I cut six inch high letters out of plywood that spell out each of their names. It turned out to be 38 letters. Painting them and covering them in “safe” lacquer took longer than cutting them.

The grandkids are getting more than letter blocks. I made some actual blocks as well. Using scrap 2×2, and old pieces of dowels and what’s left over when you use a holesaw, I created about 100 blocks that I’ll divide up amongst the three households where the little ones live. I painted them and then used a Sharpie marker to put the letters and numbers on. I didn’t count on the fact that the lacquer makes the sharpie run. Oh well, the kids won’t care.

I also built four wooden footlockers. I designed the footlocker a few years ago. This year I just pulled out the design and cut four copies of each necessary piece. I used existing wood out of my workshop. I had to get custom colors. The colors for Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and BYU. I’m still deciding on the fourth one.

I also built a shelf. A shelf with a hidden secret. I don’t often do typical furniture. Most of my woodworking is more functional than fashionable. But, with the shelf, I spent some time. I bought trim and stained and varnished it. And the secret is as well hidden as if it didn’t exist. And, no, I’m not telling what the secret is. It would no longer be a secret if I did.

Not all my projects were gifts. I built a baseball display board for some mini-bats I’ve collected over the years. It holds five mini-bats, four baseballs and three baseball caps. That one’s for me.

Under the Christmas tree will also be gifts for each of my married kids, presents cut out of wood. I was planning to use more of the plywood that I’d built the grandkids’ letters from. My lovely wife offered the following “advice.” “Are you sure you want to use that?”

“What do you mean?”

“I just thought you might want to use solid wood. You’d be disappointed if it doesn’t look as nice as you could make.”

Oh sure, use the excuse that I wanted to make it nice. She was right, of course.

There is one person who knows what I’m making and knows it’s for her. My lovely wife has been asking for a set of shelves to display the 8×10 pictures of our children. She’s been asking for months. Sometimes, just getting a gift is more important than being surprised.

Like many boys in scouting, this year has been busy one for my two boys. One has completed his Eagle Scout requirements and the other is hoping to get it done by the end of the year. One final gift is custom made walking sticks. Each cut from the Maple trees growing in our front yard.

Not every gift is coming out of my workshop. With 13 kids, three sons-in-law, six grandkids, and living parents, there are a lot of birthdays and anniversaries in our family. I built a custom calendar with all the family dates and pictures of each person. This one goes to everyone, kids, parents and grand-baby families.

Now, you might be wondering, if I’m making Christmas presents for my family, why am I telling you all? Won’t that spoil it? I don’t think so. I mean, Y’ll won’t tell anyone, right? Besides, just like my family, you don’t know whose name I drew, so even if you were going to tell, (which I know you won’t,) you’d only be guessing who the presents are for.

I hope your Christmas is magical. I hope you can spend it with those you love. I hope that your gifts whether purchased, or homemade, will bring joy to your family and friends.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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