Jean Schwieder


Christmas shopping is upon us now! Actually Christmas shopping has been with us all year since last Christmas. I have friends who shop the after-Christmas sales for their next Christmas season. That may work for them, but there are problems with me doing it that way.

· I probably would forget where I hid anything and have to repurchase anyway.

· The things I bought wouldn’t fit the person next year, or if they are teenagers I’m buying for, their wants and desires can change hourly.

· If I buy books, I’ll probably have to read them first and then I hate to give used goods as gifts.

So buying early, especially really early, doesn’t work for me. When I would sew a lot of Christmas presents, I would try to get started on them by early October. But I was always sitting up Christmas Eve anyway, putting buttons and button holes in pajamas or a zipper in a pair of slacks. I really enjoyed making my children their Christmas pajamas, and we would let them open that gift on Christmas Eve so they could wear them that night. But then those children grew up and became men and women and moved out of the house, and I quit sewing for them.

I am blessed now that a lot of my Christmas I can do on my computer. I can write books, get them printed and not have to wander through stores wondering what to buy. I can make greeting cards with photos on them and all I have to do is:

· Take the pictures

· Do any photo shopping that needs to be done, determine the size I want them

· Send an order to Walgreens and pick up the finished pictures

· Purchase the card stock and envelopes

· Spend hours gluing pictures onto cards and trying not to get high smelling the rubber cement I use to glue with

· Put them in bunches, tie a ribbon around them, and

· Christmas done!

Yes, I do have to do a little bit of shopping with these, but not much, and I can be at home to do the time-consuming job of gluing and affixing pictures onto the cardstock.

I really don’t like to shop at the best of times and the worst of times, when it is a holiday and the stores are crowded. I love to browse when the stores are almost empty, but I don’t do well when everyone is rushing around.

I have tried making homemade gifts before, but I’m not good at it! I’ve tried knitting things for people, crocheting, embroidering, and all of that kind of hand-work. I don’t think I follow the instructions on patterns correctly, but then I don’t follow any instructions, which reminds me of trying to teach our daughter, Janna, how to make bread.

While we were working on it, my husband Boyd was reading an article in one of his farm magazines about cooking, written by a woman. She wrote that it was a waste of time to get measuring cups and spoons out of the cupboard to use one time and then they have to be washed and put back up. Boyd said that reminded him of me, and Janna agreed. However, when she was making something using a new recipe, I told her to ALWAYS follow the recipe exactly the first time she makes something from that recipe. She agreed, and then I watched while she poured the vanilla right into the mixture, straight from the bottle and no measuring spoon. I guess example is the only thing she has to go on when around me.

So back to homemade gifts, I don’t make cookies to take to neighbors, or candy, or cheese balls or anything edible. If I state out loud that those things are being made for the neighbors, they will automatically burn or I will do something wrong in making them! But I do love to receive those gifts, so I will give some handmade cards. I know the cards don’t taste like chocolate or cookies, but they are handy!

Jean Schwieder is a writer who has spent her life involved in eastern Idaho agriculture. Her books, including past columns, are available by calling 208-522-8098 or by email at

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