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I'm an assistant professor at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where I teach and research how news sites can better reach their audiences. I received my Ph.D. from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri where I was one of the founding editors of MyMissourian.com, a citizen journalism site for Columbia, Mo. Before graduate school, I worked as a community newspaper editor in Southern Utah and Southern California.

Homemade Christmas brings family closer together

I don’t think I’m complaining when I say Christmas was tight this year. We are not alone in feeling the effects of the economy, or, in our case, five years of graduation school. On Christmas evening, I’m not feeling poor one bit, and I know my children aren’t either thanks to my wife and her tireless efforts to make sure they felt special this holiday. In fact, her zeal to make each of the children gifts this year to supplement what we were able to purchase made me realize that store-bought gifts aren’t all they are cracked up to be.

I think the idea first came to my wife when the kids started clamoring for an EZ Bake Oven. She had one as a child and thought it was lame. Now, remember my wife is Martha Stewart Jr. and was probably already a budding crafter back then, but her solution was elegant. She decided she would make our two oldest children baking kits. Each kit contained an apron, a $1 spatula and rolling pin, and several premeasured cake and cookie mixes. She even labeled each of them with recipe cards that featured one of Lincoln and Holly’s animal friends.

As she started, I marveled at her creativity. As the projects took more and more time, I was amazed at how much she loved her children because she never took a shortcut. In the end, she also made aprons and sleeping bags for the kids’ stuffed animals, a pillow for Alex, a couple of fabric bags for each child to put toys in and pajama pants for all three. There were times when I watched her toil late into the night that I thought, and maybe even suggested, she should just buy pajamas. I know I chastised her for adding the sleeping bags at the last minute. When I saw the spoils, I was jealous. I at least wanted a pair of pajama pants too.

holly christmasBut I guess I could make the sacrifice because I didn’t make the kids squat. I even exceeded our proposed spending limit to buy a few cheap gifts. I know now my kids won’t remember the Hot Wheels cars or Little Pets. They will remember the baking kits because I’m going to make sure they know how much their mother sacrificed to ensure they had a good Christmas. I also want them to know the value of working for what you want rather than just picking it up at the store.

That’s a lesson that’s often lost in our technological world, when we can pop over to eBay or Amazon.com and found just about anything we think we might need, when everyone and their sister has an iPod that can hold 1,000 songs or 20 hours of video. Obviously, I love technology. I wouldn’t have a job without it. But my wife proved to me that our children didn’t need all the latest gadgets this year to enjoy Christmas. She also showed me that something as simple as a homemade apron can bring a family closer together than any game of Rock Band ever could.

Even though I’ve eaten more chocolate, candy and cake in the last week than I probably should have, I’m looking forward to the first batch of cupcakes my kids throw in the oven. Believe you me, I’m going to remind them where they came from and what they really mean.

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One Response to “Homemade Christmas brings family closer together”

  1. Thanks for the unnecessary credit Hans. You and I both know it was as much fun for me to make it all as it was to give it all. I couldn’t have done it without your support. and if you’re good, maybe next year Mrs. Claus will make your I Pod a sleeping bag.

    December 26, 2009 at 12:30 pm

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