Nixa Hardware

It’s a very crafty season of the year

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The best assortment of bird houses we’ve seen are made by Greg Samuel of Fordland, online at SeeMoreWildBirds.com.

The best assortment of bird houses we’ve seen are made by Greg Samuel of Fordland, online at SeeMoreWildBirds.com.

You know the reason for the season, so we’ll leave you to your own way of observing what can be a season of stress – or of peace in your heart, if not on Earth, good food and good will.

If you’re one of those for whom the day after Thanksgiving is just Friday, and the following Monday is just the first day of the work week, this is for you. You may worrying already that there are more yuletide parties than shopping days left, and asking yourself how Santa does it each year.

To which we reply, think locally, and globally at the same time. Have another cuppa coffee if you please, or a plate of milk and cookies. Sit back, relax and look what we’ve found to help you with your holiday shopping this year.

For example, there are at least four different versions of the Nativity Scene, all of them available at Global Crafts (1508 E. Republic, Springfield in Springfield. This truly unique store might be called a non-profit ministry, except that it is loaded with remarkable gift selections all the year round.

From top to bottom:(at right) a carving from olive wood in Bethlehem; from Bangladesh, terra cotta from leftover shafts of wheat shafts unrolled, heated with an iron and fashioned into a wood-like material; and finally, a nativity from Ecuador, fashioned from bread doe small enough to fit in your hand.

Gary Jones has been gathering the work of indigent people in 40 nations and 20 wholesalers. They create from whatever they can scrounge, from telephone wire to orange peals to Capiz clam shells, spent artillery shells, gourds and so-called “plant ivory.” Most are stunning, many are bargains, and the artisans get 50 percent.

Gayle Harper's "Roadtrip with a Raindrop" is loaded with nearly 200 color photographs and essays recalling her 90 days along the Mississippi River.

Gayle Harper’s “Roadtrip with a Raindrop” is loaded with nearly 200 color photographs and essays recalling her 90 days along the Mississippi River.

And this year we’ve discovered the works of four completely different authors, each one local to the Ozarks.

  • Roadtrip with a Raindrop, by Gayle Harper, featured elsewhere in these pages. Elegant enough for the coffee table, but insightful enough to read again and again, with nearly 200 photographs by Harper during a 90-day trip along the Mississippi River.
  • Code of the Hills, by Nancy Allen, a former Greene County prosecutor, whose novel addresses a serious topic, sexual abuse.
  • Myths and Mysteries of Missouri, by Josh Young, a writer and columnist from Blue Eye with a sure eye for the lore of our home state.
  • Echoes of the Hills, a self-published collection of Ozarks sayings gathered by Roland Netzer, who grew up in the Ozarks Mountain, served in Korea with the U.S. Navy, got an education and became an organic farmer and Greene County Extension Agent, sharing his expertise on KY3 for many years. Now he’s sharing six decades of writing down the expressions Ozarkers use. Good for a chuckle, and often a lesson in common sense.

Our advice: Support your local craft artisans, for they are many and talented, and not hard to find. But they are often hard-pressed to find you.

Suggestions:
1. Support your local craftsman. They put hours into their creations, and then hope you see what they saw in a stump of wood, wreath, canvas or gourd. Noteworthy this year is Cheryl Baker’s SteelGoddess.com.

2. Green-thumb or not, real or artificial light, there’s something for any budget in a pot. Most of us love receiving a plant for home or office: a poinsettia grown locally at Steinert’s Greenhouse & Gardens; a easy-to-grow succulent from Wickman’s; a planter from Garden Adventures, honed from driftwood; or repurposed treasure from Green Gallery in Ozark.

3. Did we mention memberships? Nothing favors year-round gardening like a membership in Friends of the Garden (from $35), which also gets you a pass for two ($3 each otherwise) to the Japanese Stroll Garden, 10 percent off gift shop purchased; and reciprocity to at least 250 incredible public gardens around the country. Not to mention a year’s worth of reading in Ozarks Living Magazine. Shameless, aren’t we?

4. Give of yourself through a random act of kindness. Do something for a stranger. Just be there; be yourself; be counted on; call someone; forgive them their trespasses; be there for the someone you know needs you. Because above all, it’s our favorite gift, and it really is the thoughtfulness of the season that counts.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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