Catholic as many of them were — and nominally christian as they all were – Highland Scots regarded Christmas primarily as a religious observance, rather than a major festive occasion. Lacking priest or minister, the day was spent much like a Sunday, though with a particularly lavish meal to mark the occasion, and the exchange of small gifts. My own gift from Jamie had been the wooden ladle I was presently using, its handle carved with the image of a mint leaf; I had given him a new shirt with a ruffle at the throat for ceremonial occasions, his old one having worn quite away at the seams.
Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross (Chapter 34 – Charms)
Time is running short to hand-stitch your man a new linen shirt. Unless Phaedre is around to help, that is.
So I’ve compiled a few different handmade-for-the-holidays alternatives just in case you’re still looking for a gift or two.
If you’re like me, and the 18th C Highland Scots, then you probably prefer to spend a little time making or baking instead of fighting the crowds in the mall. Please don’t get me wrong — I contribute in my own way to the retail rush of Christmas — I just prefer to do it online. Fewer ferry fares and $10 coffees, you see.
But in a season of high emotions, outlandish expectations and high-pressure sales, mixing in a little bit of homemade goodness can spread a lot of joy. After all, we really are just simple creatures at heart.
(Especially those of us who prefer to spend our leisure time in the past with a few of our favourite fictional friends.)
Everyone loves a good preserve, don’t they? In my ideal world, we would all make one or two batches each, then share amongst ourselves in our own communities. Can you imagine? The variety in our pantries would astound even the most highly starred Michelin chef.
My contribution to the exchange would be some of Mrs. Bug’s Piccalilli. The perfect condiment for a ham or cheddar sandwich, this old-style pickle is packed with vegetables and sharp in flavour. Wash that sandwich down with a cool ale, and you’ll be one step closer to The Ridge.
Here’s a relatively easy project that any reader would love…whether they’re a paper traditionalist, or a neo-modern-ebook reader.
I don’t have a link or instructions, but I would say you need a length of black sewing elastic, some heavyweight felt, embroidery needle & thread and a little inspiration. I’ve just started one with a Scottish thistle motif.
What would a creation of yours look like?
If you’re more the type to get up in the middle of the night before Christmas to assemble the proverbial red wagon, then these Outlander light switch plates may be more up your alley.
I’m pretty sure my husband didn’t look upon it as a gift when he discovered this on our bedroom wall, but yours may be different. As for the gents out there, I’d bet this is a sure-fire way for most of you to have yourself a very lucky Christmas.
Don’t leave Rollo out of the loot! These sweet potato and dried chicken treats make a great doggie gift. I said last year that I’d make some treats for Adso, but I haven’t gotten to it yet…must be that I don’t have a cat.
Does anyone else out there have a good homemade cat treat recipe they’d like to share?
I don’t think Jared would object to a wee bit of experimentation with some of his brandy. This recipe for Pear Brandy is ready in 3 or 4 days, and keeps for a short time. That makes it perfect for hostess gifts over the holidays.
I’m not one to be found pondering life with a snifter of brandy balanced in my palm, but I really enjoy a little of this after dinner. A perfect fireside drinkie-poo.
Now it’s not a gift I would wrap for the Red Man, but lavender water is a very pretty scent for linens, stationery, hair, decolletage, you name it!
Or perhaps you like to give gifts handmade by someone else. And why not?! Think of Jamie buying Claire’s silver ring from Ewen the armourer, or Roger & Duncan shopping amongst the goods on the tinkerer’s wagon. Sigh-worthy presents, all of them.
Jamie’s Oatmeal Soap is handmade by OnABranch Soaps on Etsy. A great stocking stuffer for the would-be Scot in your life, I advise you to act quickly on this one. The last time I looked, there were 7 bars left.
Or maybe you’re looking to give your sweetheart a token of your love and your appreciation for her addiction to all things Scottish! In that case, I think this is a really cute option. Cast by Englady on Etsy, this pendant is sterling silver with a SS chain and the clasp is accented with small, freshwater pearls.
This last suggestion stretches the idea of handmade to the very breaking point. But I did take that picture myself, and I also designed the Outlander Kitchen store on Cafepress.com where you can purchase this pocket-sized flask and 11 other OK items. I’m showing the flask because they’re 35% off right now (use code 35FLASK at checkout), but you’ll also find coffee mugs, aprons, shot glasses and more.
A slightly shameless, self-promotional way to end, but I know you’ll forgive me.
Especially when I extend my very best wishes to you and yours for a happy holiday season and prosperous new year. Whatever and however you celebrate, I hope it’s rich with family, friends, joy, love and light.