like a phoenix

Pillow
Last year was not a good year for presents from the house of Anne. I had gotten into "crafting" and "making things" for a reason that remains unclear to me. I mean, I had always vaguely wanted, in a very vague sort of vague fashion, to take up sewing in some sort of vague, formless, amorphous kind of way which would start with my hands all blurred and with the background of sewing noises (which go whir, whir, whir) and end up with, I don’t know. Ballgowns. Circus tents. Ponies.

Four years ago, I even put "learn to sew" on my List of Goals I Would Magnificently Achieve in San Francisco, Land of Dreams and New, Vast Vistas—a Word document I ran across a few days ago and promptly deleted, because I had some weird fucking dreams, and some of those dreams are kind of embarrassing. My advice to you is don’t follow your dreams, because sometimes they’re just dumb.

Anyway, at some point last year, I decided that I needed hobbies,
because I was depressed in a very bad way. I chose crocheting, and did
that badly for awhile, and strangely, it did not seem to be a magical
cure for sadness, and I am considering asking Red Heart for my money
back.

And then I don’t know how the hell it happened…it was all a rush and
a blur, but in a series of unfortunate events, I found craftster, which is the land of the crazy crafty
people, and I found a Livejournal community with crazy crafty people,
and I found a sewing workshop place in the city and suddenly my life
was a mad whirlwind of yarn and fabric and hot glue guns and glass
etching and decoupage. I decoupaged. Which, actually, I’m really not
proud of at all. And I really, really wasn’t good at any of it either.
But I didn’t let that stop me! I should have let that stop me.

Because at some point, I decided that what I really needed to do was
make Christmas presents for everyone. Handmade gifts! From my heart!
Though my heart is not where it would look like they came from! And it
was an unmitigated disaster.

No, that’s not entirely true. It broke down so that I did not finish at
least 4 of the gifts I had planned to make, because I ran out of time
and had no idea how to rivet or miter do whatever it was I had cheerily
decided to do back in August and put off until three days before
Christmas, and so I was screwed.

My friends seemed to appreciate their gifts (even the patchwork pillow, above), and while that gladdened my heart I swore that I was never doing it again. But it was kind of
seasonal and shiny and the spirit of Baby Jesus touched all of our tiny
shriveled hearts which gained the strength of ten grinches. And then,
the eggnog.

Now, my family. My family, that didn’t work out as well. I was proud of
the gifts I sent them, even though they weren’t perfect, and I thought
they’d all love them. On Christmas day, they passed around the phone
among them, and one by one, they asked me what I was thinking, told me
they hated it and I should have bought gift certificates, and please
don’t do this again next year. I was crying silently on the phone but
doing a creditable job of keeping my voice steady and when I hung up
the phone, I threw myself on the bed and sobbed for a good hour, feeling
humiliated and stupid and ridiculous and ashamed of my hubris in
thinking that something I made would be worth giving away. It was very,
very tragic.

There was a nice long break from crafting, after The Christmas of Pain,
and then, recently, for reasons that remain as obscure as my original
reasons, I started crocheting, and beading and doing crafty things
again, and suddenly, I am making plans to make gifts, again. I think I
managed to reign in it a bit this time. I will make A Scarf. Just the
one. A really, really nice one. Just to assuage the crafty, sappy, handmade-is-love part of my
soul. And then I will have figgy pudding, to celebrate the way my
spirit just can’t be beat.

  15 comments for “like a phoenix

  1. November 9, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Make a scarf. It’ll be awesome. But don’t use Red Heart. Please. I’m begging you. I can help you find something special. Anything but Red Heart. :)

  2. November 9, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    i think you should make the scarf and keep it for yourself. especially if your recipients aren’t going to properly appreciate your efforts. :)

  3. November 9, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Hm… Somehow I feel like saying that family doesn’t deserve any gift at all this year. If something you took the time of *making* isn’t good enough, surely something you ‘only’ gave money for is even less good, right? (No, seriously, the gall of people passing the phone and telling you such things, while you were trying not to let them hear your crying? Uh. There would have been a hundred of more sensitive ways of letting you know the gifts weren’t appreciated. This one IMHO isn’t part of those hundred.)

  4. November 9, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Yeah I’m pissed like Kery.

  5. November 9, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Make the scarf, enjoy the crafting of it, make it fun and beautiful and wonderful. I like the idea of handmade presents myself but have no ideas or time or really anything more than thinking the idea is good.

    Your family’s reaction last year just makes me cry. Whatever happened to “it’s the thought that counts”? When someone makes a gift for me, even if it’s not what I was wildly hoping for, I value that they thought of me enough to make me something.

    I don’t know if the figgy pudding would do anything for me but eggnog is a must, at least a little bit.

  6. November 9, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Make the scarf, enjoy the crafting of it, make it fun and beautiful and wonderful. I like the idea of handmade presents myself but have no ideas or time or really anything more than thinking the idea is good.

    Your family’s reaction last year just makes me cry. Whatever happened to “it’s the thought that counts”? When someone makes a gift for me, even if it’s not what I was wildly hoping for, I value that they thought of me enough to make me something.

    I don’t know if the figgy pudding would do anything for me but eggnog is a must, at least a little bit.

  7. November 9, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Make the scarf, enjoy the crafting of it, make it fun and beautiful and wonderful. I like the idea of handmade presents myself but have no ideas or time or really anything more than thinking the idea is good.

    Your family’s reaction last year just makes me cry. Whatever happened to “it’s the thought that counts”? When someone makes a gift for me, even if it’s not what I was wildly hoping for, I value that they thought of me enough to make me something.

    I don’t know if the figgy pudding would do anything for me but eggnog is a must, at least a little bit.

  8. November 9, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    OK. Gifts for family this year: donations made, in their name, to a charity.

    I’d like to see them b*tch about that, ungrateful whiners.

    *wagging finger* shame on them.

    Jules

  9. November 9, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    OK. Gifts for family this year: donations made, in their name, to a charity.

    I’d like to see them b*tch about that, ungrateful whiners.

    *wagging finger* shame on them.

    Jules

  10. November 9, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    OK. Gifts for family this year: donations made, in their name, to a charity.

    I’d like to see them b*tch about that, ungrateful whiners.

    *wagging finger* shame on them.

    Jules

  11. sally
    November 9, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Anne,
    You known me, I eschew sentiment, but one year, my heart broke when my daughter Marika (then 9) told me that she made a purse for one of the older ballerinas in her troupe and that ballerina DIDN’T APPRECIATE IT–didn’t seem to like it, just left it lying around tje studio…Marika was disappointed, since I had told her that she made beautiful things, and that handmade gifts were the best, (things made from the heart.) She took it philosophically, but I was crushed for her, and MAD.

    I wanted to snap that snippy preteen Ballerina in two across my knee…

    I’ll take your lumpy decoupage any day, kid. Send it my way, C.O.D.

  12. November 9, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Last year was a GREAT year for presents from the House of Anne. I know presents, and yours were the best. Especially the handmade skully bag. Reclaim all your presents back from the people who complained and forward them to me, pls. KTHX

  13. November 9, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Ah… what would the holidays be without family and tears? That reminds me, I need to refill my Xanax prescription before Thanksgiving.

    I had a brief foray into decoupage earlier this year. I got bored and decoupaged all of the lightswitch faceplates in my apartment. So long security deposit! Actually they turned out pretty cool.

    I would totally dig a homemade pillow.

  14. November 9, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Personally, I love the pillow pictured!

    Where these family members adults? I can’t imagine anyone over the age of about 5 actually being rude enough to criticize a gift, any gift, given with love. I’ve gotten some doozies from family members over the years including a huge, horribly ugly bananna clippy thing for my hair when I was fifteen.I was going through a bit of a punk rocker phase and I HAD A BUZZ CUT AT THE TIME! I couldn’t use the thing but I knew my Uncle had picked it out personally and was quite proud of choosing a ‘girl’ gift on his own. I would never have embarrassed or hurt him by pointing out how inappropriate the hair clip was. I just can’t imagine ANYONE ridiculing a gift in that way.

    If you feel like sending out homemade gifts feel free to put me on the list. I love them!! What’s so desirable about a gift for the masses that you can pick up at any store with little thought or effort? Originality & creativity rule.

  15. LadyCiani
    November 12, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Anne, if you want to make a scarf, I have the best pattern for you. It’s for a scarf made out of flannel fabric, and it turns out amazingly soft, like chenille. It’s sewn, not crocheted, but totally within reason for even a beginner.

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