About Me

My photo
We are 5 llamas, 4 Angora goats, 6 chickens, 2 dogs, 1 cat and 2 humans. We live in beautiful Sams Valley, Oregon and enjoy gardening, animal concerts and small children.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What's In a Game?

I started making presents for my family about three years ago, when I discovered Etsy. I'd been long disenchanted with the way the tide was turning in the Commercial Toy world. Due to a constant flood of advertising,we are made to feel cheap or unworthy if we can't fulfill our children's every desire, and this at a time when most families are just getting by. When I discovered Etsy, I decided to join the Handmade Movement, and stand up to Commercialism. But how to do it? How could I make something for my grandchildren that could possibly compete with Walmart and Best Buy? Hmmmmm....

I put my thinking cap on and tried to remember back when I was in their shoes. When I was a little girl we had one black and white television with no remote control. We got three stations. Barbie was not yet a household word, and computers were something out of a sci-fi magazine. I had a number of different "favorite games" and when I look back on them now, they all taught me something. I used to play "grocery store", a game in which my Stay-at-home-mom would lay out all manner of canned goods around the living room, and I would push my play grocery cart around and pick out this weeks fare. At the end of the game Mom would be the cashier, tallying up the totals and taking my play money. Sometimes I had to put back the twinkies because I was low on cash. Menu planning, frugality, and addition were some of the skills I learned from this game.

My favorite of all fun-times were Saturdays at Grandpa's. Every other Saturday my Dad and my Uncle would take me and my cousins out to visit Grandpa. Grandpa had few toys, and even less money for treats. But he had a fruit orchard and made all his own jams, and each Saturday morning he would make us hot cakes from scratch (deep fried in Crisco oil!) with homemade jam on top. While the cakes were frying, my cousins and I were allowed to play "kitchen" in the garage. Grandpa's play kitchen consisted of a wooden box with two plastic basins on top. One held a miriad of discarded kitchen utensils...a bent spoon, a broken ladel, an old potato masher, a set of measuring spoons with two missing. The other basin held sand. I will never forget the fun we would have making all manner of delicacies for ourselves and our baby dolls...that was more fun than any three girls ever had!

These memories fresh in my mind, my first homemade project was "kitchen sets" for my five grandaughters. I made them all aprons with their names embroidered on them, and set them up with all the utensils needed for a well stocked kitchen. I gathered most of these from my attic, but found some at the local Goodwill and a few choice items at garage sales :) I then made them home-made "play dough" and dyed rice and beans in kool aid to complete the cupboard. With their mothers in mind, I then bought each one a plastic table cloth to lay out of the floor before each "cooking session" which could be shook out in the yard after playing. They absolutely loved it, and trust me, there is nothing like seeing a homemade gift being enjoyed (again and again!) by your children!

Since then I've made many other handmade gifts for my grandgirls and have since expanded to cover the rest of the family as well. It's no longer just about battling commercialism and the almighty dollar. It's not just about teaching our children how to "pretend" and how important that is. For me it's also about sharing a little bit of myself with my family. I'm hoping that someday I can be a part of some special memory, just like my Mom and my Grandpa are a part of mine.


Emma said...

those kitchen sets are awesome - great that you were inspired by Etsy - I also find it very inspirational.

frolicnfibers said...

Thanks Emma! The other day we had friends over with small children and they got to play kitchen with some more playdough that we made up...what fun! Everyone has a favorite utensil and this little girl loved the potato masher...everything that was mashable got mashed :)

Country Grace said...

You write so well. this one really took me back to my childhood with my Mom & her Mom & Dad... Never a dull momment at Grandma & Grandpa Little Farm. Nothing was store bought for us kids ok...except for the PJ's at Christmas time. Made many of mud pies, playhouse out of boxes. Thank you for sharing your memories. Took me back 50 years...seemed like yesterday.
Hugs Grace