Editor's Note: I saw this in Angela's wonderful
newsletter for writers and asked if I could share
it with all of you because of her memories AND the
By Angela Adair-Hoy
Growing up, my loving, sentimental mother always
provided the most magical holidays of any family I
knew. Our home was a Norman Rockwell painting
with decorations adorning every room. Even our
childhood bedrooms had small Christmas trees with
twinkling lights that Mom would leave on until we fell
asleep each night. When we woke up each morning
in December, Christmas carols would already be
floating from the radio and the large tree in the living
room would always be lit before we came downstairs
for breakfast. I don't know why that lit tree, always
twinkling in the pre-dawn hours, held such a cozy
emotional attachment for me. My childhood
Christmas memories are, by far, the most precious
memories I have, thanks to my mom. And when I grew
up, I wanted my children's holidays to be just like mine
had been. But I never realized how expensive those
holidays would be!
When I became a mom at age 19 (Go ahead and
snicker...everybody else does), things changed fast.
During my first Christmas away from home, we didn't even
have enough money to buy a Christmas tree. We ended
up cutting off the top of a pine tree in the woods and
carrying it home. It was only about three feet tall, but
I loved it.
With each approaching December (with little money
in my checking account) I was desperate to create the
same holiday traditions for my children that I had been
blessed with as a child, and I managed to succeed for
the most part, with a little creativity. We couldn't always
buy lights to hang outside, but the children and I could
make snowflakes out of coffee filters and tape them to the
windows. We didn't always have a humongous tree in the
living room, but we always decorated the tree we had
together, and it was always lit before the children woke
up each morning.
Somehow, I always managed, financially, to squeeze
by each year, but I did much better during the years
that I made gifts for relatives rather than buying them.
One year I made quilts for everyone. Another year I
mastered cross-stitching and made personalized gifts.
(Perhaps the most memorable is a pot holder for my
ex-mother-in-law that said, "We're hungry, Grandma.
Take us to McDonalds!")
Then, one year, I tried something unique that my wee
brain dreamed up, and it was such a hit that I repeated
it the following year as well.
As promised last week, I'm sharing my instructions for
making Grandma's Coloring Book, an inexpensive gift
that every relative on your list will love.
Photographs of your children from the past year
Small 3-ring binders (any color -- I buy the floppy,
Copy paper (or take the pictures to your local copy shop)
Boxes of crayons
Stickers, markers, glue gun, paint or whatever else you
need to decorate the front of each binder
Choose 10-20 photographs (or more) of your children
from the past year to include. The clearer the picture,
the better the quality of the photocopies.
Using your own black and white copier, photocopy the
pictures, enlarged, so they'll take up most of an 8.5 x 11
piece of paper. You will probably have to play with the
light/dark button on your copier to make them come
through just right.
Take the photographs to Kinkos or your local copy shop
and ask for a set of black and white enlarged copies of
each photograph (enough so each grandparent receives
one copy of each photo). Don't request color copies.
Each picture should be a black and white photocopy
so the pictures can be colored. Ask them to enlarge
the photos so they'll fit on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.
Another option is to include two photos per sheet of
paper, so each photo takes up half a sheet (2 photos
appearing on each page).
Sort the photos, hole punch them and insert them
in the binders.
Decorate the front of each binder. I label each one with
the words "Grandma's Coloring Book" and "Grandpa's
Coloring Book." You can even make coloring books f
or aunts and uncles...anyone who loves your children.
Place a box of crayons with the binder and wrap 'em up!
Be sure to let your children help decorate the front of
the binders. The gifts can them be "from" them.
About the Author
Angela Adair-Hoy publishes WritersWeekly.com, the free
markets emag for writers. Subscribe and receive a free ebook,
How to Be a Freelance Writer, which includes 103 paying markets
for writers. Subscribe online at: http://www.writersweekly.com