Anyone who knows me or who has followed my blog for a while knows that I am craft-challenged. My teenage years were riddled with failed attempts at jewelry making – clay beads, sparkly treasures – you name it, I ruined it. For years I painstakingly crafted homemade picture frames more suited for kindling than displaying precious memories. I’d like to take this moment to apologize to any of my past friends and/or boyfriends who received one of my “gifts from the heart.”
By the time I reached my mid-20s, I was mature enough (or maybe just frustrated enough?) to finally accept the truth. I seriously suck at all things crafty. Hobby Lobby is like stepping through the gates of Hell; Pinterest gives me double vision and heart palpitations. But I’m okay with that. I’m good at a lot of other things that don’t involve burning my flesh with hot glue guns and donating blood via knitting needle.
A few weeks ago I randomly came across an international Christmas ornament exchange for bereaved parents. Due to the bold letters screaming homemade, I initially tossed the information aside. The last thing I wanted to do was send a grieving parent a Christmas ornament that looked like it was made by my kindergartener. Still, I kept thinking about this little exchange, about what a special thing it was. There is this invisible bond between bereaved parents, this unseen understanding of torment and suffering that no one comprehends but other bereaved parents. This holiday, people from all over the world were channeling their common grief into something beautiful, a symbol to brighten the holiday of a virtual stranger. I imagined this chain of love and light spanning the globe, and I had to be a part of it.
So I signed up.
And then I started freaking out. This ornament wasn’t going to be some easy-peasy, non-sentimental thing you’d leave for your mailman. It was to represent the memory of a child lost too soon, to give peace to heartbroken parents, brothers, and sisters. It was to serve as a positive memory of the most difficult loss a person can bear.
I thought back to middle school Home Economics class, of how I paid the boy next to me $5 to crochet my potholder because my original effort looked like it had been eaten by a rabid puppy. I could just buy something and have it personalized, something beautiful and magical and just perfect for these parents. But that was a total cop-out. It would defeat the purpose, right? It was supposed to be from the heart, not from Personalization Mall.
So I took a big swig of Pepto and went to Michaels, my stomach churning as I crossed the threshold into the land of glitter and yarn. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do, and, 30 minutes later, I emerged into the sunlight carrying a bag of supplies, proud at the minimal amount of perspiration on my brow. I dare say I was actually a little excited to get started.
My first ornament was terrible. I’d bought this glitter pen that seemed so easy to use. It even said right on it, Easy To Use. It was not easy to use. My handwriting, never spectacular on its best day, was crooked and misshapen. It looked like I’d been bathing a monkey, drying my hair, stirring a pot of gravy, and creating this Christmas ornament all at the same time. (I’ve never been great at multitasking.) My heart sunk as I tossed Attempt #1 in the trash.
It was time to regroup, to think of something even less intensive than that godforsaken glitter pen, something more suited for a person with the crafting skills of a preschooler. I spent days relentlessly searching the internet, hunting for the perfect thing…
Ka Chow! It hit me one morning as I watched my 3 year-old playing with his Cars sticker pad. He wasn’t just playing with stickers, he was also drinking milk, stuffing a French toast stick into his mouth, and watching Max and Ruby. Multitasking at its finest. I returned to the craft store, confident and determined that I’d found the solution to my crafting inadequacies.
I emerged yet again, admittedly less confident than before, and braced myself for Round Two. I got out my tweezers and set at it, mustering all of the concentration within me to keep those darn letters straight. Twenty minutes later I had a finished product, something that genuinely reflects my heart and soul, however craft-challenged it may be, something I truly hope its recipients will cherish.
Drum roll, please…
I hope you like it.