Homemade Holiday #2

Two years ago, Ben suggested we partake in homemade gift giving for the holidays-

It sounded like a refreshingly simple concept- All of us would frollick around the hearth, making wee crafts while sipping hot mulled cider-

As it turned out, Ben was really the only person who truly captured any carefree moments that holiday. While he dabbled in song writing, poetry recitation, fine dining, oil painting and rendering Hafiz in arabic script, the rest of us scrambled.

You may recall my heartfelt post after I worked many weeks on a braided rug for Ben, one that ended up being the size of a tea cozy. Had others in the family had their own blogs, you also would have read about their angst at receiving half baked crafts from me while Ben got a real present.

In my own defense, we all knew Ben would be the one to reckon with during Homemade Holiday. After all, his idea of a moroccan feast requires the growing of lemon trees to make one’s own preserved lemons. I had no choice but to gear up with him as my numero uno craft target.

Predictably, he blew all of us out of the water with his full throttle renaissance man behavior. And again, in my own defense, I started with his present first but really didn’t think this would mean his present would also be the last one I worked on.

Those of us who lost our sense of life purpose, our confidence in our time management skills and our self identity as crafty (ie everyone else in this high drama except Ben) were relieved to get a reprieve from battle when we went camping last December and gave Homemade Holiday a miss.

But as 2011 rolled towards a close at a shockingly swift pace, we found ourselves in Homemade Holiday territory way too soon with Ben yelling a silent cry of CHICKEN when anyone suggested backing away from a second simpler kinder Homemade Holiday kind of season.

This week, when Ben (rested and on vacation from his teaching job since last Thursday) drops in on us to check on how we are doing- He finds:

Elizabeth has fled the region and gone to Austin, TX until 2012.

Emily is receiving a wide berth from all of us as we fear she may use her knitting needles as weapons.

In a stroke of brilliance, Will is negotiating our expectations in a downward direction. Slumped in a chair watching ESPN while simultaneously keeping track of Facebook on his laptop, he grunts when we ask him if he wants support with any craft projects. In a few days, our expectations will be so low that we will be grateful and amazed if he bakes us all a pan of brownies to share or even eats a brownie WITH us.

Every night for the last week, Jim has disappeared upstairs to his office to do “paperwork”. I find it very convivial to see one’s spouse five minutes a day.

Trying to outlast, outplay and outknit myself this year, I began my craft projects at Thanksgiving with Will’s present my first goal. After all, he is the youngest and has had the least number of normal materialistic holidays. I figure tackling his present could save us on therapy bills later.

Good plan… but there have been some unexpected snafus (As one learns, snafus are Homemade Holiday’s defining characteristic).

The first problem occurred when I discovered some nameless child of mine had misplaced the electric cord of the sewing machine. When I took it to the store to get a replacement, the owner of the shop had me leave the machine so “his girls” could pick out the right replacement cord. Then in some typical Homemade Holiday freak of nature, the store did not re-open for TEN DAYS as “his girls” never seemed to arrive for work and neither did he. Finally, on my eighth return trip to the store, the place was open but “his girls” hadn’t arrived yet to make a decision about my cord. I took my cordless sewing machine and ran.

Plan B required the retooling of a vintage sewing machine that had fallen into our hands a number of years ago- It was the only piece of equipment left in the house down the road which we had to tear down. Many would say the reason it was abandoned was that it too was beyond repair.

Despite the naysayers, I managed to get old Bessie going and together we punched out Will’s present, a t-shirt quilt. ( I say this without any fear Will will read this information leak. What self respecting sixteen year old would keep track of his mother’s blog?)

Anyways……When I mentioned my t-shirt quilt to one of you in an email- perhaps a bit smugly- you sent me several photos of t-shirt quilts you had made. They were stunning- gorgeous- intricate- well quilted- colorful in a zesty but coordinated way- everything my quilt was not. This was very good for my ego which until then had thought my quilt was quite acceptable.

I continue to console myself with the knowledge that once the quilt is in Will’s hands, I will never see it again underneath his bedroom piles of gear and miscellaneous clothing.

Anyways, I don’t have much time to fret about craft standards. I am determined to finish at least one other present this year, and I have a stocking I am knitting which I have told Jim is for Emily and told Emily is for Jim. Maybe they can share it……..

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