I have been enjoying some amazing crafting mojo lately, my peoples. For just one example, today I knit half of a hat just during my commuting. Granted it’s the bottom half of the hat, so it’s still not gift-able, but still. That’s impressive.
I think it’s because I have a million things I’m doing – in previous posts I have detailed how my life this Nov/Dec has involved a myriad of writing projects and grad school applications as well as full-time teaching – and none of them are all that appealing, so I reward myself with knitting. Plus, I’m hepped up all the dang time, worried about grad school, about my students, about… um, everything… so knitting allows me to burn off some energy.
How has your crafting mojo been lately? Are you churning through projects, or are you stuck in some sort of netherworld where the garter stitch binding is taking, like, twenty years, and you can’t sew in a zipper to save your life? I’d love to know.
I’m not just here to brag, though. I’m also here to tell you that deadlines are stupid. Ok, yes, they have a purpose in life (and in the world of grad school applications, I suppose), but they’re pretty silly in terms of Christmas. So what if you don’t get your handmade gift to its recipient by the close of merrymaking business on December 25th? Is the world going to end? Most likely, no. And if it does, you late gift’s probably not the cause. Unless you’re making a hat for Phoebe’s scientist boyfriend on “Friends”,* you’re going to see the person you want to give it to again, right? Or you could mail it to them, right?
If you’re thinking that I’m saying this out of self- interest: Yes. I am saying this out of self-interest, because I do stuff like that all the time. I really wish I was the kind of person who got birthday cards, Christmas gifts, anniversary flowers and all of that stuff out on time. But, alas, I’m not. I recounted in a previous column that my best friend received his snuggly wool hand-knit afghan from me in the early summer. I’ve also given Christmas gifts as late as early October. (In my defense, if you’ve gone past March, there’s really no point in giving a knit hat again until the fall, right?). I’m sure my friends and family would have appreciated them if I’d gotten these gifts to them sooner, but they seemed pretty happy with them at the time of giving as well. After all, just like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expects a Christmas gift in August.
I feel it’s worth noting that I’ve been on the receiving end of this practice, too. One of my very closest friends, a dear, sweet, lovely woman, is often late with my gifts. Once, she gave me two gifts when I saw her in September, and she said, “This one is for Christmas, and this one is for your birthday.” (My birthday is in May.) I, in turn, am late to send hers, as well. In fact, we are often so very late in doing this, and it’s become so routine, that she has had to email to alert me that my gifts are indeed going to be semi-on-time, so I don’t get confused or scared.
I actually really treasure this aspect of our friendship. To me, it says that we love each other enough that 1) our friendship will still be going strong months from now (which has always been true) and 2) we don’t have to practice societal norms about appropriate gift-giving behavior. It’s so true: If timely arrivals was all we craved out of a friendship, we’d all be best friends with the newspaper delivery kid.
So, I urge you not to tank that sweater that’s taking longer than you expected, nor the cookies you’re not sure you’re going to have to have time to decorate. Consider giving an IOU. I have a feeling this coming year is going to need some Christmas spirit just as much as the next 10 days do. More, maybe. In any case, the amount of love you put into what you made doesn’t have an expiration date
Craft on, all ye faithful!
* For those of you who don’t remember, he suddenly moved to Minsk for several years, thus ending their relationship. In his particular (very particular) case, it would be good to have the gift done on time.
Despite her outer sardonic nature, Shannon Reed actually loves bubbles, ducks, snow and Christmas, and is happy to start thinking about it as early as August. You can read more of writing and her writing about writing at www.shannonreed.org.