The quiet season of Advent is upon us, and we fill our days with excitement and anticipation of the upcoming celebration. Growing up in a large family, this time of waiting meant baking cookies, reading books, and making crafts.
As a child, I enjoyed making unique ornaments for family members each year. I am grateful to my mother for passing on her joy in creating gifts for others. Now as I embrace the role of mother, I realize again the delight which I take in creating things by hand. Looking around me, both locally and at the online world, I can see that I am not alone in this activity.
A Reason to Create
Isn’t it actually quite surprising that so many of us enjoy craft shows, Pinterest, and homemade goods, when they require more time, much more energy, and usually more money, than if we picked up a similar item at the local shopping mall?
Wouldn’t it be easier, more efficient, and therefore make more sense for our busy lives to just purchase all of our gifts rather take the time to create them? There must, then, be a reason for our joy as creators which goes deeper than the hope to make some extra cash or to impress someone.
Perhaps there truly is a reason for our “happiness” as crafters and creators. In reflecting on this idea, I would like to quote Caryll Houselander, who seems to make quite an important statement in this area about human nature:
“We realize the things that really do contribute to our happiness, and work for those. For example, we cease to want to be rich, successful or popular, and want instead the things that satisfy our deeper instincts: to be at home, to make things with our hands, to have time to see and wonder at the beauty of the earth, to love and to be loved.”
As Houselander explains, there are things that satisfy our deeper instincts, and these are the things which bring us happiness. Perhaps being at home and making things with our hands is one of those things which truly satisfy, as well as bring us closer to God. He has given us a special power to imitate Him in our creating abilities.
We are able to look at something He has given to us—e.g. a piece of wood, a bolt of fabric—and through the imaginative departments of our mind, create something unique and new. There is a deep sense of satisfaction to look upon something which you have made and see that it is good; just as God saw that all of His creation was very good.
God, of course, creates out of nothing, and we create from using the tools which He has given us. Still, there is a similarity to God’s creation insofar as we put great thought, time, effort and love into what we do, and we achieve something good as the fruit of our labor.
Advent is a good time, perhaps the best time of the year, to give a special place to creating. As God the Father was creating the infant Jesus in the womb of Mary, we imitate His work by creating a place for Him in our hearts and homes both physically and spiritually.
Working on Good Things
First, we need to attend to the spiritual atmosphere—creating a place of hope, anticipation and peace within our souls which will stand in awe before the manger on Christmas day.
Next, this anticipation passes into the physical atmosphere of waiting and working, decorating our homes, and creating projects for friends and family out of love. This giving of our time and energy builds a spirit of excitement and joy within the home. Working on gifts by hand can bring us together with our children and families in a new and special way.
We can use the long winter days to teach an important lesson to our children about the importance of waiting, preparing, and the virtue of patience. “Patience” in the Latin root “patior” means “to suffer”. Mary truly waited and suffered in patience for the birth of the Christ child. While we create a place for the infant Jesus, we must “suffer” in some sense; we must deny ourselves the joy of the Christmas celebration until the proper time.
We must work diligently on our projects, with perseverance and patience. Any of us who have created projects by hand know how essential it is to practice these virtues, otherwise the project may end up as a disaster. Our children will learn that good things take time, and they will experience the true joy of giving a gift which was created first in their hearts and given form with their hands.
It is a blessing from God that He allows us to participate in His creativity and generosity. We can give with love, and truly become “little Christs” during this holy season.
Crafts Header image © Africa Studio / Dollar Photo Club