THE DECEMBER displays and magazines make you sigh. They show firelit settings filled with precious old knick-knacks and soft cushions and fabrics. There they are, beautiful families dressed in velvets, silks and laces.
And there you are in the shops with gift list in hand. It's not very different from a few years past -- snappy shirt for dad, a trendy tie to put your husband in the fashion stakes, a nice blouse for mom and assorted socks and gloves to replace what the children have lost or outgrown.
You think back to former holidays and special moments in your family's life -- your little ones all dressed up in their first little red Christmas outfits that were bought or made by a loving grandmom.
You remember grandmother's visits. She always carried a hankie and always wore her good crystal necklace. You remember bringing him home for the holidays to meet the parents. He wore his letter sweater.
Well, stop pining for Ralph Lauren's or Laura Ashley's version of the holidays. Gather some of your family's old threads and weave them into gifts.
It helps to have inherited pack rat tendencies. Rummage through the storage boxes and dresser drawers. Call your parents. Think about it.
Shame on you, if you didn't save at least one little baby outfit. Not even the christening clothes?
We don't often admit it, but we all love to touch things from our earliest years. Your grownup child would love to get a huggable bear dressed in an outfit he wore as a baby. Bears can be found in sizes ranging from newborn to toddler, so fit shouldn't be a problem.
Did your husband win some swimming or debating medals when he was in school? He may still have them rattling around in a box somewhere. Maybe they're still with his mother. He may be embarrassed, but love the thought if you dress a bear in a small sweater (school colors if possible) and proudly display those medals on the bear's chest.
Does you father's old Bulova or Hamilton idle at the bottom of a jewelry box? Get it overhauled by a jeweler. With the crystal polished, interior cleaned and a new leather strap it will become a wearable and memorable gift for a son or brother.
Treasured old lace collars, handkerchiefs, embroidered gloves and fancy buttons that once belonged to the great-aunts look more precious when mounted and arranged in a special frame. Framing can be a do-it-yourself project or passed on to a professional. Just be sure the mounting is on acid-free papers so that fragile fabrics don't disintegrate or discolor.
The old custom of bronzing baby shoes is new again. But why stop at baby shoes? Why not the running shoes your son wore when he won his first cross-country race? Or your ballerina's first toe shoes? People have even been known to bronze cowboy boots.
Check with a store that specializes in children's shoes. The price is based on the size of the objects.
Loving projects take time and there aren't many days left but some ideas can be wrapped and held for another holiday.