Thursday, 4 February 2010

handmade love

Thank you everyone for your kind comments about my tiny felt bunting and for sharing with me how you add a touch of handmade love to your gifts, I love them all! First impressions may count for something but I'm also pretty sure that in order for your gift to impact with a sucker punch to the heart then your best chance is to give something handmade.

I know making stuff is hard. (Well, it is for me.) It takes a super long time, always longer than you thought it would, it usually costs way more than if you'd bought a 'ready made' gift and often it doesn't turn out exactly perfect either, or like the vision you had in your head.

But these reasons (aside from the cost!) are what makes receiving a handmade gift up there with a big bear hug when you're feeling really down or a really sucessful therapy session. Handmade gifts are forged in the fiery furnace of love, people! That warm fuzzy feeling growing inside you is actually heat emanating from your handmade gift.

Why am I harping on about handmade love you ask? I'm probably preaching to the converted. You've probably been making amazing gifts for years and think nothing of it, it's just what you do. Well, you're amazing and I appreciate your efforts. I aim to be just like you one day - generous and thoughtful and talented. But have you ever found your handmade gift didn't receive the praise or appreciation that you were hoping for? How did you cope with that?

I love receiving handmade gifts. I was brought up by a ridiculously humble, super talented maker and every year of my life has been filled with handmade clothes, special birthday dresses, beenies, scarves, jewellery, endless handbags, nighties for me and matching ones for my dolls, dinosaur pjama pants stolen by numerous uni friends, teddie bears, blankets, blankets and more delightfully cozy blankets. My mum is a powerhouse of handmade love. Now it's just how our family operates - we make stuff for people we love.

Recently I was referred to as 'the eccentric aunt' by the father of my partner's 2 and a half year old niece. I've always make sure our presents for our niece are handmade, or at least partly handmade, because I thought it was important to carry the handmade torch, to share with her family the joy of handmade love and to show how much I care, but despite my efforts to connect with her she will barely say more than two words to us.

I was really upset by his comment. I interpreted it to mean that I was crazy, wacky, out of touch with reality and that my crappy handmade gifts would have been better received had they been Wiggles merchandise or store bought items. Maybe it means my colourful clothes or the flowers I wear in my hair don't make me look like a respectable adult. Whatever he meant - it made me feel like who I am and what I stand for weren't right and that was why our niece doesn't like us very much. And that made me sad.

A big grey storm cloud hung over my head and I just didn't feel like making stuff anymore.

A few weeks later, on a day that matched my miserable mood, I was surprised to find a parcel in the letterbox addressed to me. As I opened the parcel a gust of wind swept up behind me and hundred colourful spots danced around me on the wind. I gasped loudly, not knowing what they were at first, then laughed with delight when I realised it was crepe paper confetti and like a burst of tiny colourful balloons being released into the sky, this signified a momentous occasion, a special moment in my life.

Special doesn't begin to describe what was inside that parcel.

Kate, completely unbeknownst to me, had knitted me one of her special panda hats and sent me one on the sly. A complete surprise. For no special reason, other than the lady is filled with talent and love and generosity of spirit.

I actually burst into tears. Happy tears, of course. My tears of pain and sadness and self doubt were flushed out and replaced by happy, grateful, inspired, wonder filled tears. The best kind.

I'm certain that this is a magical hat and that whenever I wear it my spirit will be filled with strength, generosity and happiness and remind me of the power of handmade love and the importance of passing that love on.

I may be fragile, weak, childish, not particularly talented, flawed in many ways, eccentric even but at least I know that people will still share their handmade love with me. I couldn't think of anything more wonderful than that honour.

p.s If you'd like a panda hat of your own or for someone in need of a magical strength giving handmade gift, speak to Kate as she mentioned she might sell one in her etsy shop!


Kate said...

Oh, YAY! Yes, panda hats to hit store soon, if only it will stop being 30 degrees already. Have one almost finished. I'm glad you liked the confetti, it made me smile!

My sister is a good handmade gift recipient. She loves the finished product. But she doesn't really appreciate the process. I have friends who appreciate the process btu would really rather a store bought something. Finding someone who understand what a labour of love a handmade gift can be, and loves the thing for itself - that's something special! And definitely a rare talent that you posses.

I come from a family of makers, too. Whether it's a whole gift, or custom wrapping, or a silly card. We make things, because that's the only way to give gifts that are as special and lovely as the people we love. Something bought from a store can be lovely and thoughtful, but it just doesn't have the same message of specialness, does it?

You say you're childish like it's a bad thing! I work with so many people who are petulant and needy but don't have the joy that children have. I'd rather be frivolous than boring.

Some people don't understand. Some people are jealous that they can't be as awesome and cool as you are. Some people are afraid that your choices will make theirs look wrong, so they have to make yours look wrong first. I'm not saying that your BIL is necessarily any of these, but maybe he is. Maybe he didn't mean to be hurtful - people throw away lines like that all the time and it's hard not to let them stick. But don't let him dim your shine.

Queenie Bee said...

I love your panda hat. It would be a HUGE hit in China, where I live (kind of). I love this blog entry (I think I arrived via kind words from Kate) as I am weekly filled with self doubt. I love what I do, whether it is appreciated by everyone, or not. Plus no one in my family knows I do this because I think they would find it silly. I think you're brave and artistic, which is awesome.

Anonymous said...

Every now and then I wonder if my handmade gifts are wanted - mostly when I'm giving to adults, actually! I've decided to take care about this and if I'm not confident of my interpretation of what this particular grown up would like, I go for store bought. But I still wrap it up funny.

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