Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Don't Do Crafts

This is the only craft project I have ever completed - a shadowbox for my daughter's six grade graduation. 
The only reason I did it was because I didn't want my kid to be the one with the parent that didn't do one! 

I don't do crafts. As a result of not having the "craft gene" I feel guilty and worthless at this time of year. This was amplified when my daughter was young and there were certain parents (yes, even some fathers are more crafty that I) who would wow everyone with homemade cards, beautiful decorated cookies, stunning holiday tables, or scarves and baby blankets they had been knitting for months in trendy Italian yarn. I would look at the onslaught of creativity and wonder what was wrong with me? After all - I am an artist, trained in my artform, good with my hands - why wasn't I crafty?

Even my daughter seemed to value the crafty moms and wanted to hang out with them. The jewelry designing moms were a particular hit. The extent of my craftiness was merely an extension of my work – I would draw her notes to go home with a friend for a playdate - that was my big claim to fame. Why couldn't I have built a "Rube Goldbergesque" sculpture that moved little dolls, representing my daughter and her friends, from one room to another via a complex system of pulleys and tinker toys? Maybe my expectations got in the way? You think? But as my daughter grew older I found myself wishing I was motivated to make a wreath for the front door, or custom holiday cards. Then I woke up!

It is unfair for me to think that I should have been expected to apply my art skills to the tasks of decorating my life during the holidays. Some people do it seamlessly but not I! Within the last year I have been experiencing what is commonly known as an "empty nest" with my girl in college. She doesn't come home for Thanksgiving and now all I want to do on that day is something nice for someone else, get Chinese, curl up and watch a movie. The last year has been a process of getting to know myself as an artist all over again. I have realized that there are a lot of reasons why I am not crafty.

For some people crafting items that bring their family and friends joy is an active expression of community. I too love to express respect for my family, friends and neighbors but even my wedding was potluck! Why because in the case of my wedding it was the action, the internal dialog, and the moment that mattered to me. It is maybe the same reason I hated taking photographs for years because I didn't want the camera between me and the moment. That has since changed with my iPhone. Now I take so many pictures they are clogging up my digital memory but I still don't upload them to a crafty photo Christmas card that I would order online.

This attitude could go back to childhood when my mother, a true hostess by all standards, would have a mini breakdown before every holiday gathering in her quest to have everything perfect. My mother was so detail oriented she even special ordered smaller hot dog buns for our childhood birthday parties. As an adult I truly appreciate the hardwork she put into Christmas morning and the kid parties but all I remember is her being frazzled and frantic.

In true daughterly fashion I have rebelled by keeping it simple and redirecting my "crafty" tendencies to my illustration projects or my magazine. With that in mind – my daughter will probably be the Martha Stewart of her neighborhood, delighting her own children with the perfect knitted holiday sweaters, made from really cool Italian yarn, and lament in her own blog about how I never did crafts for the holidays when she was young.