Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Friday, December 30, 2011

Matroyshka themed Christmas

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a sudden and intense interest in researching my Russian heritage. I don't actually know if I have Russian heritage or if my relatives were true Volga Deutsch - was my great grandmother a Russian who married a German? Or were they both German?

I have big-ish rather unfeminine hands, and I have always referred to them as my "Russian working woman's hands". This is not a slight to myself, because they are also strong and competent hands (if I do say so myself).

At any rate, each year when I'm thinking about what to do for the family for Christmas, I have quite a few creative stages. In the first few years I did one really big thing for one family member (as in knit a super-involved thing). Then it got to two, I think, unintentionally. This year, as mentioned in a previous post, I didn't think I would have time/money to knit something for everyone. What could I do to channel my creativity that wouldn't cost very much, that I could put together quickly, that the whole family would appreciate?

Once I figured out what everyone was getting, I hit upon an idea: I would wrap the presents matroyshka style and I would draw each family member to indicate who would get the next present. 

 Sketches of the family - early version

These, I might add, are very accurate depictions of my family members. 

Younger niece

Dan's older sister

Dan's step-sister

Dan's youngest sister

Dan's older sister's husband

Dan's stepbrother (a story about the monkey that says OVERDUE on the tail: one morning while I was staying at the Stately, Thor came downstairs after having had a dream where he had borrowed a monkey from the library and it was overdue, woke up in distress because he didn't know where the monkey was). 

Dan's stepfather. Now remember that everyone in the family has a 'thing', and John's thing is toast. 

Oldest niece turned 16 a few days before Christmas and got her 'L'. For those of you not in British Columbia, this is the first step in a graduated-licensing program for people who want to drive. You get your L for a while, and you have to put this big magnet on the back of the vehicle you are driving to tell the world that you are LEARNING to drive. After a determined amount of time (a year? I don't actually know) then you can take the road test and get your N, which is a different magnet, to tell the world that you are NEW at driving. There are certain restrictions around this, like you can't drive after dark, there have to be people in the car who also have valid driver's licenses, etc. It's dumb, and I'm glad I grew up in a time where I didn't have to go through this rigamarole. But there it is. 

My mother in law.  Her thing is chickens. This drawing of a chicken here is from the kitchen table which she painted, and the model she uses is of a chicken sculpture somewhere in the Stately.

Wrapping begins. I didn't (remember to) take photos of every step, but you get the idea.

Getting bigger and bigger

By the very last wrap I had run out of paper. I had this done four full days before Christmas, which is unheard of for me.

On Christmas morning, I walked into the house with just the one big present. Everyone wanted to know what the one big thing was and who it was for. Dan's mum saw the drawing on the big one (for her) and knew that all the others were nested inside. It was great and appreciated. And tons of fun for me! I've had a few bursts of creativity lately so I already have the next two Christmases planned out for the family. It's a good thing because each year someone tells me "you've outdone yourself". (Just what my ego needs, more praise. I mean thank you!)

The reason I go to so much effort is because it's fun. Christmas with my family of origin was never really fun, not even as a kid. We held the German tradition of opening gifts on Christmas eve. I think Santa brought presents for Christmas morning, but we were pretty young when we figured Santa out and after that I don't think we even had stockings. Christmas was just about seeing family, eating, and just being together. With Dan's family it is so much more. We each of us exchange gifts, and with nine other people that can seem a daunting task. But this family specializes and revels in things handmade. It's wonderful. I found a recipe for some Spice Almonds on the Internet, gave that to Thor in a food storage container, and they were gone within two days. That's what Christmas is about - fun, thoughtful gifts and having fun with each other. I love it. I fit right in and I have a great time every year.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds lovely! How clever you are to think of the nesting presents. I am so jealous!