Hand made gifts and the truck budget deficit

user-gravatar Headshot

We’re finally, finally, finally going to pick our new truck up this month. Of course we would go whole hog and get the thing in December, the most expensive month of the year, but that’s how it worked out, and after four months of fooling around trying to find someone to take our money on terms everyone can live with, I’d burn Atlanta to get the dang thing and finally be in it.

So needless to say, we’ve gotten the biggest Christmas present we can get, and because that present is the reason our son gets to do things like eat and have a place to live, we consider it a “family gift,” which means no one else in the family is getting squat for Christmas. When I say everyone is getting a picture of us in the new truck, I ain’t kiddin’. It’s a handmade Christmas, for sure.

Our son is almost grown and our daughter is married and has her own home, so we really don’t do big Christmas at our house. We reserve those festivities for the grandparents’, and let me assure you, both sides of the family do it up. Apparently, there’s an ebb and flow to the intensity of Christmas celebration during a life cycle. When your kids are young, you do insane things like stand in line at Toys-R-Us for nine hours for a $40 piece of plastic, and stay up all night on Christmas Eve putting that piece of plastic, and the four thousand screws and grommets that go with it, together. As the children get older, it gets a little easier, all they really want is money, so shopping becomes unnecessary and there’s a lot less gift wrap. You go through a few years of low-key, minimal shopping-injury Christmases and then, BAM! Just as you get a little older and used to the quiet Christmas, your kids bring you grandkids, and suddenly you’re standing in line at Toys-R-Us again. The flux and flow of life.

We don’t usually buy a lot of stuff for anyone but the little kids, the nieces and nephew. My brothers and I exchange gifts like a tee shirt with a picture of an aquarium on it that says, “I’d tap that.” (Still one of the best gifts ever from my brother Gray to my brother Lehi, who did MMA for a minute, so the “tap” reference was actually tri-fold. Hilarious and smart.) We don’t get crazy, by any means, but we try to give each other thoughtful gifts.

Page one down, nine to go.Page one down, nine to go.

I decided instead of buying something I’d make a quiet book for my niece – she’s the youngest in the family and I’m fairly certain she loves me above all others. I became fixated on a pattern for a “Lord of the Rings” quiet book, which is possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I showed it to George, and told him I was going to make it.

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers

“Woah. That looks pretty hard.”

“Yeah, I’m a little concerned, the pattern is 66 pages long.”


“I can totally do it.”


So I spent $10 and downloaded the pattern and used about $99 worth of ink to print the 66 pages of instructions and 35 pages of pictures to correlate with the 66 pages of instructions. I bought a binder for $3.49, to put all the pages and pictures in, so I wouldn’t lose anything important – like the last page. I went to JoAnn fabrics and spent $66 on materials, because I bought it exactly like the instructions said to. (Note to self: never do this again. I had about half the stuff in my sewing cabinet.)

George called as I was wandering to the check-out.

“Hey. Get everything you need?”


“Great. How much did you spend?”

“I’m not quite done, but somewhere around a hundred bucks.”

“Uh. Really? I thought handmade gifts were cheap. You’re not doing this right. How much did we spend on her last year?”

“About $45.”

“So we’ve more than doubled the price and still don’t have a gift.”

Aaand you can shut up, because she’s going to have a bad-ass quiet book about Lord of the Rings.”

“There’s like 22 days til Christmas. That thing looks pretty hard.”

“Did you call for any other reason than to destroy my dreams and aspirations?”

“Oh yeah, will you get me a hamburger?”

So now it’s a “thing.” When something becomes a “thing” for me, it means I must complete the task or destroy the nest or whatever needs to be done, and I will drive myself insane doing it, until it gets done. I nearly crippled myself finishing a quilt for the old truck, because no one thought I’d ever finish it and it became a “thing”. Well, I did. I finished it and about three cervical vertebrae at the same time. It was made with love and madness, just like the quiet book will be. I’ll keep you posted.