Friday, November 27, 2015

Why Hand Made Matters

The blanket my Gran made for me in the 1970s.

When it comes to gift-giving, it's easier and often less expensive to buy something from a retail store when we head out shopping with a checklist. But I've been thinking a lot lately about the beauty of giving--and receiving--hand-made gifts. I've been thinking about why hand made matters. 

Links to our Past

Do you remember your parents or grandparents making something for you? Perhaps your grandmother crocheted or your mother sewed. Or maybe your father did wood carving and your grandfather painted in oils. Think of the time someone spent on what they loved to do, especially if they made something specifically for you. These are part of your family story.

For Shelagh and me, our love of giving something special, something hand made, comes from our mother and her mother. Gran was amazingly talented: she sewed, crocheted, and knit. When I was a teenager, she sent me a beautiful crocheted afghan that she and her sisters (I think) made. Gran mailed it from Scotland, where our parents were from originally. Although I loved it, I know my teenage self didn't completely appreciate it. But I still have it and every time I look at it, I think of my grandmother.

Supports Creativity

Face it, most of our days are spent on the "have to" activities: grocery shopping, children's events, house cleaning, even exercising. But creativity should be part of our lives, whether through our own pursuits or appreciating other people's. I read a great quote from Elizabeth Gilbert that I think sums up why creativity is good for our mental health: "If I am not actively creating something, then chances are I am probably actively destroying something--myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind."

The beauty of creativity is that it looks different for each of us. And often we appreciate that "thing" we cannot do: painting, knitting, jewellery-making, writing. Pursuing those creative activities is a wonderful outlet. Purchasing an artisan's creations might fire up your own creativity.

"Slow Living"

The growth of mindfulness has occurred as people becoming tired of a hectic, hyper-connected, over-marketed lifestyle. Living mindfully means slowing things down, choosing simplicity over excess, being present and aware of what we have, and practising gratitude.

Making something by hand means having the chance to be active creatively and mindfully. Buying something hand made means choosing creativity, simplicity, and a story over speed, excess, and a checklist.

These are just some of the benefits I see for why hand made matters. What do you think? What do you see as the benefits of choosing hand made over store bought?

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