So it’s come around again, as it does with the passing of time. That time of year when lots of people succumb to the societal pressures of gift giving. There was a time I too partook of the expectations, it is, after all, instilled in us from birth that to be approved of, one must behave in particular ways. The thing that has me bemused this year in particular is the wailing and complaining I’ve been reading on a variety of craft discussion boards of how far behind many crafters are in finishing their makes.
I’m finding it hard to understand how an honest to goodness crafter, whether they work with threads or yarns or fabric or foodstuffs, and who knows the creation of a completed product takes a relatively measurable amount of time to undertake, chooses not to prepare. If they know this, why then would there be multiple objects left to not only complete, but to begin, in the last hours before the seasonal deadline for giving? These crafted objects do not include the food stuffs designated for consumption during the days of celebratory feasting. No, I refer only to the chosen items for making for gifts.
We know 364 days prior to this annual event precisely when it will occur. Sure, some organise their get together for a different date from the one specified, but they know it’s a happening thing in the month of December.
When it comes to making a non-perishable item (yarn, thread, fabric, wood, etc), making it well ahead of time spreads out not only the anxiety, but the joy of creation, and even the anticipation of giving too. I just don’t understand the concept of leaving multiple items to the last month, let alone weeks and days. For some, it’s down to hours left to work until the gift recipient is expected to arrive. Surely there is no joy left when the anxiety of being able to meet the deadline is so great.
In those years gone by when I did take part in the whole thing, I’d most often begin my gift shopping during the January sales, and from then on throughout the year. Either crafting or purchasing gifts as the sales presented themselves. Finances needed to be carefully managed and finely balanced. Already having decided on a range of gift ideas for each individual after careful assessment of their likes and dislikes in order to choose more carefully something they’d be likely to enjoy, and that would be appropriate.
Much of my crafting was for others, that is true, for I had swallowed the lies we are told by religion and society, hook, line and sinker and did not feel myself worthy of such pretty things. Making things for myself cheaper than purchased items was, however, acceptable. So it was okay to make myself clothes, something I still do. Now, I’m happy to say, I can also make myself fripperies and pretties whenever I choose to.
Preserves like bottled relishes, pickles and jams would also be made when produce was cheap, and easily available to me. Many jars of preserves made their way as gifts to people I cared about. There were those who discarded my handmades when they thought I wasn’t looking too, they have never received another correspondence or gift from me. It hurts, that’s true, and even more when it’s family. On the other hand though, some of the recipients of my handmade gifts shed tears of happiness at being thought worthy of being given handmade items.
So, now that we’re up close to the giving day, how about starting on the 1st January 2020, the beginning of a new year and a new decade, with the concept of ‘Preparedness‘? Prepare for what lies ahead. I’m talking about being prepared on the small, individual scale in your own home, and for work and such. Your own personal preparedness capababilities, things like setting aside time for relaxation; also things like planning family meals, budgeting, shopping lists. Stuff that means you don’t throw away more than you mean to in a week. And always doing it within your realms of possibilities.
Prepare and organise ahead of time for the things that are known to be going to occur so you get to enjoy each aspect of the situation: the choosing of a recipe, a pattern, what it will be made from; the purchase of the ingredients needed. Then there’s the making of, the time for which will need to be sorted and fitted in to daily, or nightly, activities. Prepare and organise so you can take time to delight in the growth of the item being crafted, then in the finished item. The making of the item to be gifted is part of the gift itself, instead of the narrative being that of an anxiety filled race to the finish line, let it be a pleasurable story you can both enjoy that you get to share with the recipient.
Or better still, don’t wait for a societally designated day to give a gift. Any day is a good day to give someone a gift, and it will mean more because it was unexpected.