I went home for the weekend to find my mother furiously ironing applique on to pieces of felt.
It was what has become a regular occasion in my childhood home - crafternoon. In what I hope is just a passing phase similar to recycling iron and hessian bags during the Great Depression, mum has decided Christmas is a commercial runaway train and this year she will be personally making every decoration, Christmas card and probably gift for relatives and friends.
I've never seen anybody tie festive bows on reindeer heads with such ideological certainty. There's somewhat an audible zing as the ribbon riffs against itself, sounding very socialist with a hint of a Russian accent.
She's always been quite talented in this respect, but her penchant for cross-stitching farmyard animal scenes has relegated her work to a niche market of potentially very weird chicken fetishists and really, we don't want those people in the house.
Last year, instead of an actual Christmas tree, she sewed a festive tree on to a 30cm piece of cloth and bequeathed it to me for the Yuletide season.
"It's an heirloom," she said.
"But you literally just made it," I replied, foolishly ignoring my cue to just accept the gift.
"Yes, and now it's an heirloom."
I believe it is now in a packing box, ready to be unearthed for my bemused flatmates this year. They'll probably want to get a tree, which is so 1992, and I'm going to have to explain to them the importance of honouring my mother's needling and that yes, we can hang it somewhere where it won't get in the way. Like Poland.
She's added to that for this year, handing me a very joyful runner-thing which I assume goes on a table but which I will probably wrap around my head approximately 2 hours after I crack the next bottle of wine.
Don't get me wrong. I'm always quite chuffed to receive these crafty gifts as it means mum has been thinking of me again. I suppose she still feels guilty for spreading the rumour that the hospital gave her the wrong baby back after I was born. I think she's probably right, though, as I've always had a sneaking suspicion that my family and I were strangers trying to eat dinner from the same plate in a dim-lit restaurant. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Her Christmas cards are coming along very nicely, I must say. I was really very restrained and didn't point out that each one is costing her $2.65 to make (cardboard and gold stamps are really just so pricey) and that she could probably buy 50 for just shy of $5 at Crazy Clark's.
Mind you, the Crazy Clark cards are always so terrifically morbid.
I remember I received one card with a snowman melting on the front. The look on its face was so aghast. It was the same as the look on a child's face who has, for the first time ever, understood what death is. It's like the Christmas card was not-so-subtly reminding: "Say Merry Christmas now...BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE."
And I did that year. For Frosty's sake. I said Merry Christmas to everyone.
I said it to our dog. He wagged his tail a bit, but I think it's because he was thinking about something else.
At least my mum's cards are very cheerful and bright with the requisite amount of silver and gold flecks sprinkled across them, like the Bling Fairy has paid a personal visit.
How very quaint.