Recently on a cold night, we were driving down the road and Joyce said, “my grandma is keeping me warm tonight.”

I gave her a puzzled look and she replied, “I’m wearing the gloves that my grandma made for me 50 years ago.”

She then went on to describe how, a short time before she passed away, her father’s mother took requests from all of the grandchildren concerning the color of gloves they would like. Then, diligently, over a several month period, she made gloves for each grandchild, so firmly made that they have retained their warmth to this day.

One of the things I have always appreciated about the generations before us is how they liked to make gifts that would giving last remembrance to family heritage. From hand-made furniture, to neatly made crafts, it often took many hours to make gifts that were intended to last for years and generations to come.

When Joyce referred to her grandmother’s gift, my mind went back over 50 years to this time of the year; actually, to a period that often began in October, and sometimes lasted for the entire year.

But especially leading up to Christmas, my grandmother sat in her special rocker by the crackling sound of the wood stove, crocheting, knitting, and anything she could do to prepare home-made gifts for Christmas. Sometimes, the gifts were very simple; she would repair socks, pants, and shirts, and re-issue them as Christmas presents. Of course, there would be handkerchiefs that had been embroidered, crocheted doilies, stocking caps, and warm mittens.

Often, grandma would allow me to card wool for sheep wool blankets or comforters. Other times, we would make home-made Christmas ornaments together.

One part of homespun Christmas gifts that I really got into was the candy and cookies that would often accompany the more elaborate crafts. Home made anise candy, peanut brittle, chocolate drops, fudge, buckeyes, cookies, and other goodies would often be packed in greeting card boxes, shoe boxes, and other salvageables and be mailed to relatives at a distance.

Of course, I would often volunteer to help pack those boxes for “special reasons,” one that my parents sometime ignored and other times placed limitations on.

It was the home-made items that tore at my heart this past summer when we were sorting through family heirlooms in preparation for the sale of our home. The “Great Depression ethic” of saving had been one of the most instilled qualities of our way of life, and it has been etched pretty deeply in the heart of yours truly.

The element of sentimentality had obviously spilled over to the hearts of our children, who gladly received and cared for quilts, blankets, scarves, and other items that had once been hand made in love by their ancestors decades and generations ago.

Perhaps one of the most touching moments related to my mother. Prior to her failing health, she had determined that she was going to make quilts for all of her grandchildren. She had accomplished her heart’s desire with Julie and Sandi.

One day as I was going through some items, I came across a brown sack full of quilt blocks. I realized immediately what it was; it was the quilt blocks that were to have gone into Jason’s quilt. Life’s journey had gotten ahead of itself and she wasn’t able to accomplish her goal for the final grandchild.

A burning knot came to my throat as I looked at all of the properly made quilt blocks that were a part of my mother’s unfulfilled dream. Joyce and I determined immediately that we are going to see to it that they are assembled and completed, which leads to another train of thought – family threads are so woven from generation to generation, but there is no distinct beginning or end.

The family heart is cared for tenderly from generation to generation, just like Joyce’s gloves – five decades after they were made, they were still providing warmth on a cold winter’s night.