Made by Hand

For Christmas two years ago, my Japanese friend, Hiroko, gave me a very practical gift. When I tore open the wrapping paper to reveal a long, grey, wool scarf, my first thoughts were that it was a dull color and a very simple design. However, it did look warm and the color would go with my black winter coat. I thanked my friend (who is in her 70s) for such a thoughtful, useful present and then our discussion moved on to other subjects. A few minutes later, she brought the scarf up again.

“I made that you know.”

“You did? I didn’t know that you knitted!”

“Yes, while watching TV I like to knit.”

“Hiroko, I’m so impressed that you made this! Thank you!”

Knowing that my friend made the scarf made me appreciate it so much more that I had at first. When I see this gift in a drawer nestled next to my other winter scarves, I don’t see a dull grey scarf but I see “the scarf that Hiroko made” and I smile.

After that Christmas I started making some crafts of my own and in December of the next year I sent two of my pieces to my sister-in-law and her teenage daughter. I was careful to consider their relative sizes and ages in choosing what I would send them. I didn’t hear from my sister-in-law until a few months later.

“Oh, by the way, thanks for the bracelets,” she said.

“Did you like them? Do they fit?”

“Yes, they fit us both fine and we are sharing them.”

“I’m glad you like them. I wasn’t sure when I made them what sizes or colors to choose so I hoped I had gotten it right.”

“You made them?”

“Yes, couldn’t you tell? I thought it was obvious.”

I realized then that my gifts, which had appeared to be two simple beaded bracelets, would now be looked upon differently by my sister-in-law because she now knew that they were handmade.

Would she like them more now? I’m not sure. I do know that I got a lot of pleasure out of crafting them and giving them away-perhaps more pleasure than I get receiving gifts, especially those that are not handmade.

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