First: I know it’s very “on trend” to make gifts these days. I’m no “hipster” or “fashionista;” I’d be considered a “poser” and can only look with fondness on the days I was known as “cool.” Though I’ve often been sick, I don’t think I’m “sick” in the way I often hear that word get used these days. All that is to say I’m not knitting gifts for any social reasons. I am knitting gifts because I love to knit. Knitting gifts gives me more opportunity to do something I love for the benefit of those I love. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Societal trends aside, I’ve discovered a side benefit to making gifts for others. The process of knitting helps me stay in an Advent frame of mind rather than fast-forwarding to Christmas.
You see, Advent is a time of waiting, but waiting of a specific type. We are called to feel our own need for resolution and see the injustice in the world. We should be dissatisfied with the status quo. When we fill our Decembers up with shopping, we are masking those feelings with the accumulation of stuff. Certainly we all need “stuff,” but we should avoid using it to cover our spiritual deficits and uncertainties. It’s like using a Christmas tree to try and hide the hole in the wall behind it. It might help us ignore the hole for a while, but on the first cold night we get, we’ll be wishing we invested in sheetrock and insulation instead. When we recognize that was is isn’t what should be and yearn for what should be, we live in Advent.
Knitting gifts has helped me because I am constantly living with what is not yet as it should be. Things get started and not completed. Things that are finished are not quite what they should have been. Some of the things that get finished are beautiful, some are lumpy, the wrong color or full of mistakes. Some gifts won’t be done for Christmas.
In short, the knitting I am doing reminds me of the incongruities of life–just as Advent does–and keeps me in process–just as Advent does.
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
–The prayer for Advent IV from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979 ed.
For knitters: The hat featured at the top of the post is “An Unoriginal Hat” by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. The pattern is a free download on Ravelry. The yarn is a Debbie Bliss Donegal Chunky Tweed. And no, I don’t know who will end up with this hat for Christmas yet.