Sadness, remembrance, appreciation, connection – just some of the things you feel when a gift project comes back into your life.

I’ve made a lot of things for others, but the most enjoyable projects are those made as gifts to friends and family. You work harder and take more time. You make sure everything is perfect. Your sense of pride and accomplishment is overwhelming. And the enjoyment the recipient gets from the project is priceless.

But life, being what is it, means that those projects will eventually belong to someone else. In some cases, they came back to you. On my shop wall is a Shaker-style clock I made for my parents more than two decades ago. Upstairs in our living room, there’s a mantel clock my sister asked me to build; it came home when she lost her battle with cancer two years ago. Elsewhere in the living room is a cherry box I made for Sally’s mom; it’s been back in our home for four years now. When these things come back, you go through a mix of emotions.

Sadness is obvious – you’ve lost someone you know. Whether a cherished family member or an acquaintance, the sense of loss hits you first.

Then comes remembrance. You recall when you made the gift; the process of crafting it; what you were doing in your life at the time; moments spent with the person. No matter what the memories are – and there are a lot of them – the good ones last forever.

Closely tied with remembrance, you grow a deeper appreciation for the opportunity to create a gift that was special for someone you know or love. And, knowing they made the project part of their lives from that point forward, the appreciation grows.

But the most powerful feeling, the one that lasts the longest, is connection. You made the gift with your hands and talents and, once given, the project became part of the person you gave it to. And when it returns, the connection is completed. As long as you have that cherished item, it can sometimes feel that you haven’t lost the person at all.

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