|Candlelight stroll during Christmas at Canterbury|
In the December newsletter of Canterbury Shaker Village, Executive Director Funi Burdick writes, “But as with so many things Shaker, it turns out that mindfulness and intentionality was, and still is, the secret to cultivating and living the simple life no matter what the season, no matter how long the list.” She quotes a 1907 Shaker publication, "the true meaning of Christmas goes deeper than gift-giving...the gift is most truly a part of Christmas that has been prompted by love, respect, gratitude or charity.”
|Matryoshka dolls painted by Master Artist, Marina Forbes|
Jeanne Brink is a Western Abenaki Master basket maker who has passed on her skills to several apprentices. During a 2005 interview discussing teaching her then current apprentice, Sherry Gould, Jeanne said “basket making to me, is it’s not that you just sit and make baskets. You’re teaching someone but you don’t say, okay, this is how you’re going to do this, so watch. It’s also a time when you talk, when we share things about our families, what we’ve been doing; we really get to know each other better. That’s part of it. Making baskets alone, it’s almost like quilting. You can quilt alone, but it’s better with a quilting bee; with someone else.”
|Master Abenaki Basket maker Jeanne Brink with then Apprentice Sherry Gould. In 2010 Sherry Gould was juried as a Master Abenaki Basket maker.|
I do admit to a secret hidden agenda when buying handmade items. The work of artisans are the products of labors of love, and I sometimes question whether or not the recipient will be able to appreciate the deep value that has been invested in the object, if they are not artists themselves. I then expose my hidden agenda of wanting to share with others how much handmade objects can enhance quality of life, by using the gift as an opportunity to share the story of the artisan or art form.
|Ann Winterling (right) and Julie Robinson (left)|
Whether you make, purchase, or receive a handmade gift, the thoughtful and careful skill, time, choices, and resources embodied in the work by the artisan will continually show the recipient your own gratitude.