One of the many things I have to be thankful for this year is having neighbors who have been like surrogate family.
Ralph and Helen are empty nesters and have lived in the same home for 30-years. The pandemic has kept us from socializing like we usually would, but they have done everything in their power to make sure we were taken care of; especially since finding out that I was pregnant.
From dropping off surprise gifts for the kids. For taking care of packages when we weren’t around. For keeping up with our massive yard when we were too busy to. For taking care of our trash cans when we forgot about trash day. For spoiling our kids just like grandparents. All of this without us ever having to ask. They really have taught me so much about the kind of person and neighbor I want to be.
In addition to all of the things listed above, they have also happily put up with the extreme amount of “special gifts” that our kids create and stuff in their mailbox. Everything from scribbles, random cuttings and drawings, gibberish notes, and everything in between that I usually think would be reserved for the recycling bin unless it was your child who created it (and even so, I’ve kinda gotten over a lot of it you know).
This morning during our craft session, the kids came up with the idea to make holiday ornaments for Ralph and Helen since they can see their brightly lit Christmas trees through the window. I decided to join in on the fun to make a burlap giftbag to contain all the goodies they were about to produce.
This craft is not one of those easy to pull together unless you classify yourself as a crafter with lots of random and specific supplies. For some it might feel similar to how I feel when food show hosts or food bloggers refer to the “stocked pantry” and name ingredients that I would never ever think of stocking.
- Burlap – which you can get for free from your favorite neighborhood coffee roaster.
- An expert sewer in your life (like my Mom-in-law) who was willing to turn my massive stack of burlap sacks into bags. The burlap is too fuzzy to use on a sewing machine so she hand-sewed them. An angel’s work!
- In case you are missing #2 at the moment, just trust yourself to make them on your own. Cut two rectangles and use needle and thread to sew three sides together and then turn it inside out.
- A sturdy ribbon or cloth band to use as a handle
- Stiff felt cut in a shape of your choice. I made circles.
- Embroidery floss and upholstery needle to sew the felt circles on the bag.
And voila! If I’m even allowed to use that phrase.
Thankfully, I can’t see why you can’t replicate the same process on paper gift bags which can be personalized and decorated with colorful shaped from construction paper and glue.
What went inside was out of my control. All three kids used our seemingly unending supply of pipe-cleaners, turkey coloring sheets, metal wire, beads, and things to create their special gifts to say THANK YOU to Ms. Helen and Mr. Ralph. Massive amounts of Lindt chocolate balls also made it into the bag. Additionally, I stuffed it with a couple of extra grown-up things that I know they would use.
I am sadden to know that our time with them is coming to a close in a few weeks as we move back in our renovated home. But it feels like a permanent friendship and it’s not like they are that far from our permanent neighborhood.
I know that many of us will miss our annual Thanksgiving family gatherings this year because of COVID-19. But I hope that you are still surrounded by people to be thankful for. As a close friend always reminds me, no situation is permanent. This too shall pass and once again we will be together with the people we love.
In the meantime, become a crafter I say! Stock that craft pantry and learn to use your hands to create things for your loved ones. It’s a wonderful way to fill up lonely times.
Wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!
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