It isn't an exciting new project, no.
Or a blood-lettingly insane tutorial series.
It's a general sense of Hm... Something's Out of Whack Here that I needed to put into words.
I tried to in this post about Joann sneaking out Santa and candy cane fabrics in July, but it came out wrong, sorry about that.
And when I thought I'd elucidated it, I felt like a traitor to my own kind.
Before I tell you what it is, I will first tell you that, sitting in my garage, is a large cardboard box containing an unassembled wooden toy kitchen that I bought on amazon. And sitting in various closets, hiding, are sacks of dolls, entertainment media, books, kits and other toys that I bought from various stores, including Target, IKEA and Barnes & Noble. Some mine, some on behalf of grandparents and aunts/uncles overseas. And that over the next few weeks, I might buy a few more items to add to that collection. And that some might be plastic. And that some might need batteries.
Good clues, eh?
What's this all about?
Christmas, of course. You knew that.
Season of giving etc. etc.
And, in the crafting world, also known as The Busiest Time Of The Year.
No, thank you.
Earlier in the spring, I looked at the girls' plastic toy kitchen and decided it would have to go. It was too tiny for Kate, let alone all three girls to enjoy. But I wanted the kids to have something to cook at, so I decided to do what everyone else was doing: get a discarded TV cabinet and turn it into a spanking new, HUGE play kitchen. Told the husband about it and showed him pictures on other people's blogs. I was practically foaming at the mouth, I was so excited. "They're free!" I said. "Craigslist has them!" "True, we'll have to find a place in the garage to store it until I have the time to work on it. But we'll save money! It's real wood! Home Depot, here I come!"
He said, "Hm.......!" in that unfathomable, euphemistic, midwestern way that I've come to love.
Nothing at garage sales. Nothing on craigslist. Nothing anywhere.
"IKEA! I'll do an IKEA hack! Everyone does it! Where's that IKEA catalog?"
I was unstoppable.
And then life happened. Summer swept in on wings of golden sunshine. We ditched our strollers, bought a shiny red wagon and hit the parks. We went to the zoo, we had picnics, we met friends, we ate out, visited museums, fed random animals in ponds and lakes, shopped at farmers' markets, took walks, started swimming lessons and rode the train downtown to check out the skyscrapers and have tea in a cafe. On the weekends, when Daddy was home from work, we continued the merrymaking at different venues doing different stuff.
I hardly touched my sewing machine, or my glue gun. Sometimes I got to make something, but it usually made me feel as if I was missing out on something better, while I was sitting there stitching away summer shorts or whatever. It could have something to do with us having about 3 months of summer and 6 months of winter in these parts, I'll concede. And today with melting snow outside at a balmy 37 degrees, I look back over the summer and think we did good to pack it all in.
Nothing like a meager 24 hours in a day to remind me of how little I actually get done, and how everything is undone and repeated the next day, and how everything is often at the expense of something else. I sigh and laugh about it a lot, because that's life.
But it's also why I buy 90% of my kids' clothes, even though I can sew kids' clothes.
And why I buy 99% of my own clothes (some of which drive me nuts with their fit) even though I can sew my own clothes.
And why I buy toys for my kids, even though I can make kids' toys.
And it isn't about starting in July to be ready for December. I can't do all these things and still be with my kids. Some of you can, and do, and that's wonderful! I am not good at being multiple people at once - Tailor, Toymaker, Teacher, Cook, Mother, Bookreader, Baker, Blogger, Floormopper, Driver, DanceRecitalAudience, PrincessShoeMender. I'm always needing to remove one role or another, just to give the others their turn.
So here comes Christmas, and ooooh! I have notebooks full of toys and clothes that I have sketched out for the kids, for the shop, for patterns. Which to do first? Their kitchen? Gotta start on it now, to be finished in time for Christmas (or when Kate is in 6th grade, at the rate at which I'm honing my woodwork skills). That other farm toy I'd been desperate to start on since last year?
And then, suddenly, I know what I need to do.
I get online, do some research, watch price fluctuations, and click to buy. I buy.
I buy my kids their wooden play kitchen. It isn't top-of-the-line Pottery Barn (who can afford that?). It isn't even vintage-looking. But I am delirious - I have bought myself about 3 weeks of time to be with the kids - to bake cookies, pull the sled around the block, visit the children's museum, read books, watch movies. That farm toy that is destined to be a hit with kids of all ages? I mentally give myself another year to think about it, and I've bought myself a fortnight of evenings to sit with my husband.
While I was trying to find what worked for me, I considered taking my own anti-handmade pledge for Christmas. Like some folks who pledge to sew a dress a week, or rid their closet of anything from the 1980's. Then I realized I'd be so stressed from boycotting my poor sewing machine and gluegun that I'd die, lonely, miserable, claw-fisted and prematurely-aged. And what if I had a perfectly delicious idea that I HAD to flesh out in fabric and that took only 4 hours to make? I'd have to wait till after Christmas to try it out. Daft!
So no pledges. No anti-anythings. Just opportunity cost: how many hours will I get back if I don't make this for so-and-so by Christmas?
So that's where I am this holiday season. I'm buying gifts. I'm making some, if I feel like making. Some stuff are already half-made from the summer and I might finish them up just for closure. If the kids can work with me to make stuff, that's a bonus. There are a couple things that I do want to sew up for them, but if it feels deadline-ish, I'll save it till February or their birthdays or next Christmas, or never. I don't have a To-Make list (apart from chocolate chip cookies and krumkake to stock our cookie jar). I don't even have a To-Give list of people I can't afford to miss out. If I feel guilty closer to Christmas, they get krumkake. Or a box of chocolates from Costco. I've never been so disorganized and goal-less in my life. It's a good feeling!
Of course now that I've gone and said all this, it is entirely possible that nobody will ever buy any more of my patterns to make anything for anyone ever again because now everyone is shopping at amazon or Target (drats). And I know that there are budget issues, too, for a lot of us - handmade saves money, which is why it's so great. And some of us have Great Aunt Felicitys to whom we MUST send a gift that looks expensive/shows evidence of environmental consciousness/needs to be handmade or risk offending forever. Everyone's Reality is different.
So this is my plan for Christmas 2010. There probably won't be a lot of projects appearing on this blog between now and January. Or maybe there might be. It depends on what I feel like doing when I wake up each morning! You do what feels right for you, and don't forget to take time off, is all I'm saying. Sounds funny coming from me just after launching my 20-something-chapter Pockets Tutorial Series! But even that was started back in June,
forgotten all about taken my own sweet time with, photos shot and rotting in the computer, posts half-written. Now I'm finishing them, lining them up to auto-post and I'm finally getting some closure, 5 months later! Good thing nobody's running races here, huh?
Have a lovely Thanksgiving, everyone, and a restful Advent!