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Adventures in Swapping

Back in October, I read a post on Beyond Little House about a Little House Christmas stocking swap on a website called swap-bot. It sounded interesting and fun so I headed on over to check it out. As it turned out, the criteria for signing up for this swap were a little strict, with good reason. You had to have ten swaps with good ratings before you would be considered for this swap. As I was able to figure out swap-bot, I could totally understand. This was a big swap and there are swappers who “flake” (don’t fulfill their part of the swap – receive but do not give). (If you’re interested in more info head on over to swap-bot.) Mimi, who was the swap coordinator (and a super nice and creative person) graciously accepted me into the group. She was sure that I could get ten swaps in before sign-up time. Without going into a ton of explanation, I’ll just say that I did get my swaps in and had a little fun doing it.
So, I did do the Little House Christmas swap. And I had loads of fun getting my Christmas stocking together!
In swap-bot you are assigned partners for each swap and, since this was an international swap, I knew that being assigned an international partner was a possibility. While the partner assigned to send to me was from the good ol’ USA, the partner that I had to send to lived in Finland! I have to say that the cost of shipping this was way (and I mean way!) more than I thought it would be. I’m sure that there must have been a more inexpensive way to ship, but from what the woman at the post office told me I could only have saved a couple of dollars by not shipping flat rate and that wouldn’t have made a huge difference. I enjoyed having an international partner, though, as I was able to send her items from the homesites that she may very well never be able to visit.
I really racked my brain trying to come up with ideas of what to send my partner. I know I could be crafty, but I have not taken the time to do crafty things in years. Now was not the time to start!
But wait! How about filling the stocking with a Christmas from each of the nine Little House books?
I did just that. I attached the passage from the book that goes with the item and also added personal notes on the back as some of the items came from the actual homesites or my own collection.

 I bought this stocking at Meijer. It reminded me of the illustration of Laura in Little House in the Big Woods when she was making snow angels in the Christmas chapter. I know I could have made something with felt, but I’m not that good yet! Reminds me…another day I will show what my daughter made for me!
 In the morning they all woke up almost at the same moment. They looked at their stockings and something was in them. Santa Claus had been there. Alice and Ella and Laura in their red flannel nightgowns, and Peter in his red flannel nightshirt, all ran shouting to see what he had brought.
In each stocking there was a pair of bright red mittens, and there was a long, flat stick of red-and-white-striped peppermint candy, all beautifully notched along each side.
They were all so happy they could hardly speak at first. They just looked with shining eyes at those lovely Christmas presents. But Laura was happiest of all. Laura had a rag doll.
~ Little House in the Big Woods
(Charlotte came from Walnut Grove)

He pulled out an orange, and he pulled out a little package of dried figs. And he thought that was all. He thought no boy ever had a better Christmas.
~Farmer Boy
(I knew that I couldn’t send a real orange to Finland, so how about a chocolate orange?)


Something was shining bright in the top of Laura’s stocking. She squealed and jumped out of bed. So did Mary, but Laura beat her to the fireplace. And the shining thing was a glittering new tin cup.
Mary had one just like it.
And in the very toe of each stocking was a shining bright, new penny!
~Little House on the Prairie
(This tin cup came from the Ingalls Homestead. And, yes, I did put a shining bright, new penny in the toe!)
In one of Carrie’s stockings were four pieces of that beautiful candy. In the other was the button-string. Carrie’s eyes and her mouth were perfectly round when she saw it. Then she squealed, and grabbed it and squealed again. She sat on Pa’s knee, looking at her candy and her button-string and wriggling and laughing with joy.
~On the Banks of Plum Creek
(I’ve been collecting buttons for a couple of years to make my button string garland for my own tree. This is my one homemade item.)
Everyone exclaimed when Ma unwrapped her pretty apron. She put it on at once, and stood up for them all to see. She looked at the hem, and smiled at Carrie. “You hem very nicely, Carrie,” she said, then she smiled at Laura, “And Laura’s gathers are even and well sewed. It is a nice apron.”
“There’s more, Ma!” Carrie cried out. “Look in the pocket!”
Ma took out the handkerchief. She was so surprised. And to think that the very morning she gave away her Sunday best handkerchief, she was given another one; it was as if this had been planned, though none of them had planned it.
~By the Shores of Silver Lake
(This is a vintage apron that I got from ebay with a new handkerchief tucked in the pocket.)
Pa stretched his arms above his head. He opened and closed his hands and stretched his fingers wide, then ran them through his hair till it all stood on end.
“I believe this warm weather has taken the stiffness out of my fingers,” he said. “If you will bring me the fiddle, Laura. I’ll see what I can do.”
Laura brought the fiddle-box and stood close by while Pa lifted the fiddle out of its nest. He thumbed the strings and tightened the keys as he listened. The he rosined the bow and drew it across the strings.
A few clear, true notes softly sounded. The lump in Laura’s throat almost choked her.
~Christmas in May chapter from A Long Winter
(I had two fiddle ornaments and I gave this one away.)
Together Laura and Carrie had bought a German-silver thimble for Ma, and a blue silk necktie for Pa. And at Laura’s plate was the blue-and-gilt book, Tennyson’s Poems. Pa and Ma did not guess that she was not surprised They had brought from Iowa a book for Carrie, too, and kept it hidden. It was Stories of the Moorland.
~Little Town on the Prairie
(I wished I’d been able to get a vintage book of Tennyson’s Poems, but settled for this. It did include the poem, “The Lotos-Eaters”)
In the sitting room Carrie and Grace made little bags of pink mosquito netting, left over last summer from the screen door. They filled the bags with Christmas candy that Pa had brought from town that week.
~These Happy Golden Years
(Pink tulle with a little handfull of hard candy)
A hundred precious dollars had gone for doctor bills and medicine and help through the summer and winter so far; but after all, a Rose in December was much rarer than a rose in June, and must be paid for accordingly.
Christmas was at hand and Rose was a grand present.
~The First Four Years
(I bought this wee little china doll at the Ingalls Homestead when we were there a couple of years ago. I had a hard time giving her up, but she was perfect as Rose.)
That was my stocking! I packaged it up and sent it to my partner far away in Finland. Then I waited, anxiously, for her to receive it and rate me. I wasn’t worried about the rating, but I really wanted her to be pleased!
Finally, she received it and this is what she wrote when she rated me:
Comment: I received your package yesterday and opening it really made the Christmas come right to me there and then! I´m totally speechless in front of your generosity and all the amazing things you sent me. First of all, you spent so much money sending all that this far and how thoughtfully you had prepared all the pieces. You really love those books and know every detail in them as you´ve chosen such great parts from them and the items fit those parts perfectly. All I can say is BIG THANKS :)!You´ve such a special person and I can´t believe I was so lucky to have you as my partner. May your Christmas be full of joy and happiness!

That made it all worth it!

In the mean time, I had received my stocking from my partner in Missouri. She put a ton of work into the hand-made stocking. It’s beautiful! In the stocking she included a bookmark, ornament, heart magnet, board book, Whitman’s sampler and mini M&M’s.


4 thoughts on “Adventures in Swapping

  1. Really nice Laura, I hope your Finland friend reads the books someday to realize how well your gifts fit the stories.Judy Green

  2. You did an outstanding job on your gift…lots of thought, research, and wonderful items. I'm so glad your gift was appreciated so far far away! I love the Little House on the Prairie series on TV, matter of fact I'm watching it now!

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