Picture this, living in Alaska with a three-year old and a newborn. Mr. Right was an Army guy and I was a stay at home mom. To say that money was tight, well, let’s just say we had to get creative. And I do mean super creative.
While living on an Army post, you might not be surprised that at least twice a month, sometimes three times a month, someone would be having a baby or find out they were going to have a baby. Between, the neighborhood and the church and the folks Mr. Right worked with, we were having to give a gift all the time. I made a budget. $5.00. Yes, you read that correctly. I came up with this ingenious idea, I would ask different friends at different times, in the lower 48 to buy and mail 6-12 plain, white handkerchiefs. I would pay $1.00 for each. This was light years prior to the internet and I had to “shop” with the help of friends.
I would take the handkerchiefs and embroider flowers and leaves and vines. Sometimes if I knew the name, I would embroider the name or monogram. Then I would by hand tack a little tuck here and a little there and add two mini buttons and some ribbon for the tie. I would create a baby bonnet. Yet, once you snipped the threads it would “magically” would fall apart and become a keepsake to carry at a future wedding. I typed out a poem (yes, on a type writer) and I would take it to the local library and for 5 cents would get a copy. Sometimes, I went wild and got 6 or 10 copies made at once. Then I would take 1/2 piece of tissue and wrap the bonnet. I would sometimes, have cards from “Current” that several of us shared the postage on or I would make a little enclosure card. I had a ribbon box and would always save any and all snippets of ribbon that came my way. I would use what I had to tie the gift. I could use a roll of baby wrapping paper for 6 months! Carefully cutting the perfect amount.
Fast forward 28 years, Mr. Right no longer works for the US Army and we are fortunate enough to have a bit more monthly income. Guess what my budget is for baby gifts now? Yes, you guessed correctly, $5.00. Now, I do sometimes splurge for when the actual baby is born and I go a little over my self-imposed budget, but for the “guess what? We are expecting” present……I stick to my budget.
While living in Alaska, we didn’t have family or close friends to help us celebrate that we were expecting baby number two. Yes, we bought things each month leading up to his birthday. We had plenty of things that we needed. I just missed out on the fun and happy shower and people celebrating with us. It was , um, a bit anticlimactic. So, I decided that if I could, I would always, always help celebrate (okay, I admit it, I like to stick my nose in and share in their happiness) the happy news with all the people in our lives.
As well as the good manners of showering the new parents with gifts, good behavior dictates that we lift them up in celebration. We lift their names up in prayer and shower them with pure good wishes. No never mind if there is a formal baby shower or not. In this day and age of running out, last-minute and grabbing a gift card to put into a store-bought card……………might I gently suggest a gift of celebration from your very own hands and heart?
We got the call. A couple of days ago, a friend had kept their secret long enough, she exploded with pure excitement and happiness to share their GREAT news! While I don’t make a baby bonnet turned wedding handkerchief much anymore, I do make something. I sew a bib. I have used the pattern so many times, it is poked with a million pin holes and the paper is soft. I try and use a coupon for the fabric and if I can find a reasonably priced card or make my own. This time, I came in just under budget. I had a glorious $2.00 coupon off a card and I was able to buy one of the fabric’s on sale. So we get to help them celebrate their pure goodness with a wonderful little gift and card.
It is an honor to help them celebrate. I honestly feel like it is a privilege to be brought into their circle of love. It is an honor that I value enough to make and give something made by my hands. I spend my time, under a canopy of prayer flags, sewing at my machine. I pray for the child to be. I pray for the parents. I send the gift off with love and hope. It is my sincere pleasure to sew something for a new little baby. May God bathe the new parents to be in grace and love. Oh, and extra sleep while they can.