Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oh, Craft...

My children love Christmas decorations. And they have a minor bone to pick with their liturgy-obsessing mother who strives to allow Advent be Advent and Christmas to start on December 25 and continue until Epiphany. Looking around our neighborhood at all the sparkly lights, they wonder why I insist on waiting for the feast of St. Lucy to turn on lights. Of course, it would help if we had a tree up, but that will come as well...

So for weeks now, my children have been asking to decorate with lights. Last week we got to the stage of pulling the lights out of boxes and testing them. Today temperatures reached the 50s. I knew it would be now or never that we pursue the whole decorating-with-lights thing. So this morning, we finished testing all the lights, and I picked out one survivor: an innocent enough looking string of white lights. I announced that either we could have a simple string of lights hanging somewhere on the porch, or we could make a very simple shape with it.

Maybe you are picking up a vibe here. Truth be told, I hate decorating. I have no talent for crafty things or pretty decorations, and I have even less interest in same. I would be fired on my first day as a preschool teacher. I just hate crafts.

My daughter wanted the lights to become a snowflake; my son wanted them to become Santa Claus. How do you expect this string of lights to turn into Santa Claus I barked, patience already dangerously thin. I offered that we could do either a bell or a star. We agreed upon a star.

Ok, so now I'm really snookered. I have a string of lights, and I've promised to turn it into a star. What was I thinking.

I am not a visual person. I cannot picture objects in my mind in a way that allows them to be reproduced in reality. So, I googled a picture of a star and called for cardboard. I had a rough idea of creating a star pattern and hanging lights on it. Only, it needed to be pretty big, so I would need to enlarge my template. This was getting ugly. I thought "protractor," and realized we haven't one (at hand at least). Then I thought "yardstick." Ditto. "Eraser." Ditto. What kind of a family doesn't have these basic tools laying around?!? I wondered. In the meantime, I told my son, "You know how much you like sitting down and doing multiplication problems? That's how much I like making crafts." I just don't. My mind does not work this way. Crafts and I are about as incongruous as a heavyweight wrestler in a tutu. This is not computing.

I'm thinking isosceles triangle, and trying to estimate the ratio of the straight lines in my template with the size of the chopped open cardboard box I'm working with. Patience is way gone. The careful geometric reproduction I've labored over comes out looking like a bloated spaceship.

What the heck, draw it freehand, I say, and in ten seconds it looks as decent as I can make it. I cut it out, and I think about why we bother with stars at Christmas time. Pontification to my children ensued: "You know, the star showed the wise men where to find Jesus. So, if we have a star, we are letting people know they can find Jesus here with us." My son laughed. "Yeah, right! They're not going to find Him sitting in our living room." "Maybe He'll be standing," I say, impatience making me feel sarcastic.

Later, as we added the lights, we all braced ourselves for the prospect of our craft looking ugly. "That's ok," I said out loud. "Sometimes that's pretty close to the way we make Jesus known, so at least it is realistic."

We finished it, and hung it in the hallway window so that elements wouldn't destroy it, but it would still be seen from outside. My son beamed from outside. "Mission accomplished!" he shouted. My daughter proclaimed it "so pretty."

Golly, was I glad to see my children's satisfied smiles. At one point during the conflagration, I had literally snarled at my son, "The only reason I'm doing this is that I love my children and I want them to be happy!!" As we finished up, he thanked me for my effort, despite hating doing it. "You're welcome" said I, feeling quite a need for a time-out to calm myself down.

And then there was the Jesse tree frame I made this morning as well...

Ok, I'll show you the pictures, and I give you permission to chuckle. Just don't do so audibly into my combox, please!

The star, inside view.

The Jesse Tree


Eve said...
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Laura A said...

I know that feeling! Usually it happens to me with anything involving organizing "fun" group activities (like kids' birthday parties). At least you were able to find the humor in it...in retrospect. That happens to me, too.

Meanwhile, you modeled humility to your children by being willing to try something that isn't easy for you. Even if you're grumpy, that takes a lot more courage than doing something that's easy for you, comes out predictably well, and will get lots of compliments. And I think your star looks pretty cool glowing behind your blinds!

And as you may have noticed, all my decorations are manufactured, and my daughter put most of them on the tree. All I had to do was hold the camera still enough to take photos without a flash.

Angela said...

I just love that, Marie! So true to most of our experience, just that the details are different for each depending on our particular "weakness". The "this is how we show Jesus to others" insight is right on the money.

I find myself occupying that same kind of universe, that is, not possessing gifts which are apparent to my kids (parties, crafts, patience), but having other gifts (introspection and the quick ability to extract meaning from experience) that, in fact, are very helpful, though not as obvious.

Anonymous said...

Marie, I wanted to let you know that I answered your question about the kidswealth kits on my blog...I started a new post with your question. :) Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate the comment and question!


Anonymous said...

Oh my!! I'm sorry...I laughed!! But not at the star - it really IS so pretty! And so is your Jesse Tree. What makes it so beautiful is the effort YOU put into it just to put smiles on the faces of your children...how much harder does God work just to get us to crack a smile, I wonder...?

But I just had to laugh at this new twist on the "12 Days of Christmas are such a pain to me"! =) Thanks for the chuckle!

Blessings~ Donna