by Tim Cronkhite, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Well, it's that time of year again! Holiday season is fast approaching. If you're like me, you're sitting back and wondering what to make your family, friends or co-workers. This year has been a tough year for a lot of us and my story is no different.

Many of you may remember my Mom (Rita) from when we had our store Vegas Beads, Inc. in Las Vegas, NV. and my Mom retired from 35 years of nursing, then came to work for us in the store. She was our most trusted employee and became an expert beader in the process, often teaching classes on the techniques that she became expert in. Her favorite thing about working in the store was helping customers design and see the jewelry they were making for the special people in their life.

On Mother's Day 2010, my Mom was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. The look on my Mom's face when she had to tell her son [me] and her daughter about the diagnosis broke my heart. We had the best Mother's Day with her that year and after that made the most of every minute we were together, knowing each day and every special moment was precious. My Mom's battle with Pancreatic Cancer lasted for 8 months, and she faced each day with the courage to try to beat the disease.

On January 31st, my Mom lost her battle--it was the saddest day of my life, but I didn't let it get me down. I chose to, as my Mom would say, ''Get up, dust off your knees, and wipe those tears away and make it into a positive experience.'' Easier said than done, Mom, but I took it as a challenge. So for Christmas this year I've decided to make Pancreatic Cancer bracelets for my sister, brother and grandma, as well as Mom's two sisters, brother and 12 grandkids. Sure it's going to be emotionally tough for them to receive, but I also think it will be a healing thing for all of us to carry Mom's memory around with us ... my hope is when we get down and blue and miss her, we can look at the bracelets and realize that she's still with us in spirit.

Holiday Season Beading

The point of my story is to encourage you to remember all who have touched your life this year and every year--remember your friends, family, co-workers, your favorite grocery clerks, post office workers, etc. Get back to basics and make them that special gift. What's their favorite color or birthstone? Are they a collector of anything? What do they like? Really put some thought into your design so they see how much you care.

Holiday Season Beading   And please, don't forget the guys out there; they like to be thought of, too. I myself tend to forget the men in my life when I'm making jewelry. But really, what dad, brother, uncle or friend wouldn't like a necklace, bracelet or ring made for them? And yes, I hear it all the time as a designer, ''Men don't wear jewelry,'' but remember, they're guys and sometimes less is more, but they still like a little something and they enjoy being remembered and feeling special, just like everyone else.
Regardless of who's on your list, make the gifts as personal as you can and tailor your designs to fit each person's style. Or, as in my case, something that you know will help them remember that special person you've lost or show solidarity for a cause that's close to your heart.
Holiday Season Beading

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