The greatest gift of all may be price-tag free

A photo of a handmade Dungeons and Dragons bookend CREDIT: FINCH NEVES
Handmade gifts could be the best gift you could give.

The holiday season is here and with it, many will be wondering the same thing: What gifts should I get my loved ones?

Gift giving comes with a series of complications like, ‘What if they don’t like it and can’t return it?’ ‘How much should you spend?’ and, ‘What if you can’t afford what they really want?’ Well, fret no more because the best gifts I have ever received and given have all been homemade.

It is not that purchased presents aren’t useful or appreciated. I am certain that most of us can think of a gift we have received that we use every day or care about deeply, but it is hard to beat the dedication and care that goes into something made by hand.

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I remember being eight years old and waking up on Christmas morning. My family didn’t always have a lot of extra money, but my parents always found something for us to get excited about and that year was no exception.

Under the tree, I found a long thin box that was surprisingly heavy, wrapped in red paper with white snowflakes on it. When my turn came to open my present, I eagerly tore apart the paper and threw aside the lid of what was a vacuum box only to find the greatest thing my eight-year-old mind could imagine: a sword.

My father had painstakingly carved me a wooden replica of Link’s Master Sword from The Legend of Zelda, all at the perfect size and height for it to fit in my belt. I was ecstatic. I am pretty sure that they had to convince me not to bring it to church later that night.

It is not that other Christmases weren’t great. One year I got a bike, which I still don’t know how to ride to this day, another we got a Nintendo Wii, but somehow the sword is the most memorable. I loved that sword with everything my little heart had and I think a part of that was knowing how much had gone into it. Somehow, the sloppy edges didn’t feel like flaws and the chip in one of the tri-forces tips added to the charm.

Like a torch, I carried the love imbued into that sword with me until I got the chance to do something similar. My first Christmas married; my wife told me that she didn’t want anything. We had just paid our immigration lawyers and a lot of our future was unclear.

I toyed with the idea of getting her nothing, or even something small, but it felt wrong. I wanted our first Christmas to be special, to be something she would remember.

I spent the following weeks learning how to use CNC machines, which use computer programs to carve precise designs into wood, and how to finish wood. I called in some favours and borrowed a friends shop where I spent hours with a Dremel slowly cleaning up the rough edges that a cheap CNC bit leaves before staining and finishing the piece.

The idea was a simple one. She loved Dungeons and Dragons and had spoken about wishing she could display all of her books, so I made a tabletop display shelf with carved dragon heads on either side. It wasn’t impressive, at least not as far as woodworking goes, and the finish was uneven, but she loves it to this day.

Perhaps, you don’t have access to a woodshop, or hours to spend learning how to use a CNC design program, but there is something that you can offer. Poetry, cooking, a song, whatever it is, it may just be the best gift you could give.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.