Many years ago, I was in Pittsburgh going to school for model making. As the holidays approached I simply could not get into the spirit of the season. I was in a new city with few contacts, 600 miles from home. One of the instructors announced that the woodshop would be open for a couple of days so that any volunteers who wanted could help produce a bunch of wooden toys to be given to Toys for Tots. A number of us showed up, building toys for less fortunate kids, singing “We are Santa’s Elves”, from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and really enjoying the season.
And why not? Christmas and woodworking have always gone together.
Have you ever seen a movie, book or Christmas card where Santa’s shop was not chock full of elves making every sort of wooden toy? Nothing seems to speak to old fashioned holiday cheer like wood toys. I have made rattles, hobby horses, ornaments, cars, bulldozers, trucks, trains and dollhouses. The smell of wood, paint and varnish are right up there with pine and cinnamon as the scents of the holidays. One of my earliest Christmas memories is my father in his basement shop, making gifts for friends. That year he made bread and cheese boards. They were shaped like a cat (bread) and a mouse (cheese). It is a cherished memory and always comes to mind during the holidays. One of these years, I will recreate them for my family members to the man who first sparked my interest in woodworking. So cherish your time in the shop, especially if you spend it with kids making gifts. In my opinion, nothing in this world brings the spirit of Christmas home like wooden toys. You can’t buy that sort of memory at any store.