Crafte's Inferno: Crafting for Christmas, a Lie in the Makingcomments (10) December 11th, 2008
The truth is, I lie. Basically, I think that I am an honest person, but when it comes to certain things, well, let's just say that I might not be exactly forthcoming. The certain thing in this particular instance is: my crafting ways. For years now, I have endeavored to make most if not all of my holiday gifts. I can be a willful little soul and once I really make up my mind to do something, I'm like a dog with a bone: Just try to get me away from it before it's finished. So my problem is not a commitment issue; it is more of the realistic assessment variety. I'm really great at choosing the perfect gift to make for even the most difficult person on my list. I'm terrific at remembering the "notes to self" that I make throughout the year when a friend or loved one comments on something that they really like, or points out a certain color, or happens to mention an affinity for a specific team, place, book, food, flower, car, base-metal, or whatever. Where I need improvement is in accurately determining whether I have the requisite skills to pull off one of my great ideas and in assessing whether there is enough time in the world to accomplish it...perfectly. Yes, that is another area where I could use some counsel: perfectionism.
So how do I cope with this trifecta of insufficiency? I lie about it. Well, I have lied about it. This year hasn't happened just yet and I am still holding out hope that maybe this year I will achieve what I vow to accomplish every year—that I will do it differently. That this year I will create a reasonable gifts-to-make list, that only involves a craft that I am currently proficient in, and that allows for ample time within my actual schedule. It is now December 11th and already I am descending into craft hell. Why do I think that even though I have only just learned to crochet that a fabulous crocheted evening dress for New Year's is even a possibility? When exactly (given the gifts to others that I am making) do I imagine that this is going to be made? So it is not just that I lie, it is that I lie to myself. But I have lied to others, too.
Years ago, I was invited to spend Christmas with some dear friends out in the Hamptons. As the locale might indicate, these particular friends are very wealthy and I somehow believed that I had to make the most amazing creations to earn the invite (I should mention that this was entirely my own thinking—my friends are very loving toward me and not because I make things, but there you have it). So I knit eight of these fantastically and intricately patterned scarves that were seven feet long and boasted literally hundreds of different colors. They really were a marvel (if I say so myself), and each one took about a hundred hours to complete. I thought when I started them around Halloween that I had left enough time to complete them all before Christmas. But I did not take my full-time job or the necessities of being human into consideration so I found myself pulling many all-nighters in the hope that I could still pull it off. I ended up missing holiday parties, caroling, and other celebrations of the season so that I could sit home alone and knit furiously while I bah-humbugged about the meaninglessness that I thought was Christmas.
By the time I got to the Hamptons a few days before Christmas, I was red-eyed and exhausted and still not finished. So I lied. I feigned not feeling well so that I could hole up in the guest room and frantically knit while they trimmed the tree. I realized the insanity of what I was doing—but at this point I felt like I didn't have any other options. I couldn't go out shopping, not now. I just knit row, after row, after row with dozens of colors and patterns promising myself never, ever, EVER again. Here's the really big lie: When my friends opened up these gifts and saw what I had made, they were blown away, they absolutely loved them. Then when they asked me how on earth I ever made such beautiful gifts. How long did such a thing take? I shrugged sleepily and said, "Oh, it was no big deal, a few days maybe?" They just shook their heads, amazed.
I didn't want them to feel badly that I had enslaved myself on their behalf: I know, co-depend no more, right? So, yes, that was years ago and I never did do anything like that again. While I recognize the authorship of my own misery, I still downplay the effort and time that goes into a handmade gift.
But it is not too late for this year. Maybe the sixth circle of craft hell has a backdoor? That fabulous crocheted evening gown that I am designing in my head can stay right where it is. And as for handmade gifts? Sure, but I don't have to do all of the making. Just today I received an email from one of our bloggers about an Etsy shop she has opened. It is a fundraising shop for a relative of hers who is ill. I checked out the shop and there are a bunch of great gifts, some of the type that I was planning to make myself. But by purchasing one of these gifts at Etsy, I can also help out someone who is in need. And this weekend is Crafty Wonderland's Colossal Holiday sale in Portland, OR, where I can find incredibly beautiful handmade things for gifts and also help to support other crafters. If there is anything I have learned from my own lies, it is that honestly, we could all use some support.
Coming soon: Crafte's Inferno: The Seventh Circle of Craft Hell, Crafting for Stage & Screen
Read the first five circles of Crafte's Inferno here: