My mom was the best home economics teacher I could ask for. While she wasn’t my actual teacher for family and consumer sciences courses, she was most instrumental in demonstrating how a wife truly is the heart of a home. From sewing to cooking to family relationships to handicrafts --- Mama Cathy knows her home economics.

When I was a little girl, my mom, grandma, and aunt attended a weekly ceramics class at a studio located in the basement of a woman’s home. The studio provided the space, materials, equipment, and a few helpful artistic suggestions along the way. Given she was a young stay-at-home mom to three children, the classes provided my mom with a welcome respite and outlet to share her creative gifts. The weekly outings also allowed her to have special time with my grandma and aunt. After class, they would often head to Country Kitchen and enjoy an apple dumpling and scoop of cinnamon ice cream. I imagine a cup of coffee or two was also on the menu. What a wonderful bonding opportunity.

Over time the three handcrafted many keepsakes items. Some of the final products now occupy a place in my home. But there is one project that stands above all others as a masterpiece: the Nativity scene. Over the course of several months, my grandma, mom, and aunt all set out to create crèches for each of their homes. There were three mold sizes to choose from --- small, medium, and large. Recognizing the largest size would cost more and require more labor, my mom still selected it because she wanted the final product to be substantial. After all, a Nativity may be the most expressive representation of Christmas. Each week, the three crafted a new piece of the Nativity. It was a stepwise process that required commitment and diligence, two character traits my mom exemplifies.

I just returned from a visit to my mom’s house where we enjoyed reminiscing about how the Nativity came to be. Despite his lack of direct involvement, the Nativity stands as something of a tribute to my father who passed away three years ago. In our conversation, my mom expressed gratitude to dad for his willingness to give her the space to attend the classes. And even though their budget was tight, dad wanted a substantial Nativity just as much as mom. I’m so pleased she took that weekly time-out for herself and tickled she also created meaningful and beautiful pieces for our family to enjoy.

In a time when so many have so much stuff, I often question what it all is really worth. What’s its meaning and significance? Do stories even accompany all the accumulations? When measuring my Nativity against my mom’s lovingly handcrafted, one-of-a-kind heirloom, ours comes up a bit short. It’s not bad, mind you. In fact ours has an elegant simplicity to it that fits our family well. But now I’m just a little extra motivated to put the Das Schmidt Haus stamp on it as well as many other of our developing faith traditions. I’m longing to express my heart in our home just as my mother did when I was growing up. As I actively seek those opportunities, I offer gratitude for the example mom has provided.

Copyright 2012 Lisa Schmidt