Belinda was my sister in law and one of the most charming people I’ve ever met. My husband and I described her as magical because she just had that mesmerising effect on people. However, at a very young age of 35, seven years ago, she passed away due to an autoimmune disease.
I miss her and her death was too soon. But at the same time, I always thought she lived a full life. She married at 23, she gave my brother three beautiful sons, she loved life and celebrated every moment of it. But the thing that I’ll always ALWAYS remember about her is that she enjoyed making things. She was first and foremost a superb cook and baker (her cream puffs were my favorite!), but she also had a hankering for arts and crafts and would even make her own pastry packaging.
I will never forget one Christmas season when she was pregnant with her first son and stayed home on most days, she and I spent the afternoons making Christmas presents out of junk and art supplies. She taught me how to make photo frames using corrugated board and how to make my own holiday themed stationery. It must have been the first time I really fell in love with paper crafts and discovered the joy of making! I owe it to her for showing me.
Belinda, or Ate Bel as I called her, has been gone for some time now, but her influence in my life is apparently very much alive. Since that time, I’ve always tried to make some of the presents I would give away, not only for Christmas but for other occasions too.
A few years ago, Kayo and I made art prints for some family members. Another year, we came up with original designs and had them printed on plain colored t-shirts. Last year, I gave away sets of hand-stamped blank cards for friends. I’ve also made papercut artwork, fabric banners and small watercolor paintings to give away.
Yes it can sometimes take a little more time and quite a bit of creativity but, I discover, there is fulfillment in carefully crafting something for another. Once the recipient sees how much thought and effort went into it, she will feel valued. I also believe that if you have it in you, you must absolutely share your art, give it away and touch people’s lives with whatever you can do (or make)! It makes gift-giving more fun and meaningful.
As the Christmas season fast approaches, I am again reminded of those slow afternoons with Ate Bel, gluing pieces of cardboard together and making pretty things with otherwise useless junk. I hope she knows just how thankful I am for what she has taught me and for those wonderfully creative moments together.
Now I’m thinking, What Christmas presents am I going to make this year? I guess it’s time to plan… 🙂