-as an expression of love
-as a diversion
-as a creative escape
By definition, a hobby is an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation. My recollection of both of my parents and their hobbies gives me pause this holiday season to reflect upon what is important in life. A strong work ethic was instilled in me from an early age. Both my parents worked hard, but I also observed them pursuing hobbies which at the time, did not appear to be hobbies. My mother played the piano and my father sometimes sang along after dinner.
As an Expression of Love
Growing up in Massachusetts and in Colorado, I noticed my father planting gardens to provide us with vegetables and fruits. What we didn’t consume fresh, my mother canned for the winter months. She also sewed most of our clothes when we wore in elementary school.
It wasn’t until I began 4-H and sewed my first dress in Colorado at age 11 that I began to notice how relaxing the activity can be. I nurture my creative spirit which comes alive with sewing. I love the many textures and colors of fabrics. Sometimes I alter the patterns as a means of conveying my inner being to the fabric.
As a diversion
When daily life consumes me too much, I change the pace and allow myself to have some idle time and to just let my thoughts wander. I play the piano which is very relaxing and allows my brain to flow and feel differently. I become conscious of the minute details nature has to offer. Looking out the upstairs window, I can see the tracks of our winter friends, the rabbits and squirrels and know they reside nearby.
A key element of physical, mental, and emotional health is play. Enjoying coffee or tea with a friend, a phone call to connect with others or sharing a meal are all elements of play. Every time I visit with friends in Germany, I am aware of how they understand the necessity of taking breaks from work. They allow time for walks and visits and celebrate what the seasons have to offer with traditions handed down generations ago and still carried on today such as the Advent calendar. After my father retired, he and my mother became world travelers and kept travel journals.
As a creative escape
The importance of expressing creativity cannot be overstated. It is what keeps us alive as humans and allows interactions with others. For more than twenty years while working as an engineer in Colorado, my father pursued word-working classes at the local college. This hobby provided him a creative outlet and allowed him to become the artisan he was. All over Pueblo and beyond, he donated handmade and engraved wooden projects. I still have many of his furniture pieces which he lovingly engraved with the type of wood and stain he used along with a dedication.
My mother also sewed and hand knit many items which were given to family and friends. In this spirit, I carry on their tradition of having hobbies as an expression of love. It was from her that I learned to enjoy music and play the piano. When she was in RN training in Boston, she often entertained the medical staff by playing the piano for a sing- along in the break room.
The handcrafted wooden Advent Wreath my father made me is pictured here. We light one candle for each of the four Sundays of Advent as we celebrate the Christmas season. During my first Fulbright year in Schweindorf, Germany, my daughter was in kindergarten and came home with a lovely project which adorns my kitchen to this day. The ladies of the village routinely gathered during the holidays to create something by hand (basteln in German) which was kept simple to remind us of why we celebrate this season. The ladies fashioned a small tree using a sawed off piece of fir tree with clumps of rice glued to the top to appear as snow on a tree, a twig for the tree trunk and green moss at the base. They visited the kindergarten class to help the little hands make these trees to bring home to their family.
Handmade expressions of love by family and friends bring comfort and joy to my life. These are simple pleasures, but aren’t they the most profound ones to be cherished by us? Every year when I am asked what I want for Christmas, I respond that I desire nothing but a handwritten poem.
What hobbies do you have and how do you feel when you pursue them? Why not craft something by hand to give to loved ones and friends as an expression of love this holiday season?