Once upon a time I used to make fun of the Sunday circulars for craft stores that screamed “75 Crafting Days until Christmas!” (And once upon a time I used to get and look at Sunday circulars. Now you know how old I am.)
But now I actually like making things for Christmas — not all my gifts, but for those who will appreciate something handmade: my friends, my mom . . . women, basically. Those of us who don’t need any more stuff but appreciate something functional and pretty and that comes with little thought and care, and probably a lot of laughter, wrapped up in it too.
I have a friend who shares my crafting philosophy of “pretty, not perfect,” and likes spray paint and googly eyes as much as I do. We’ve planned a project day and since it is well before Christmas-crafting go-time, we were congratulating ourselves for such early motivation.
And then I discovered this.
Not discovered so much as uncovered. Still smug from my early planning action, I was further pleased with myself for thinking I should take a look in my gift drawer and see just how many gifts I already had tucked away before I start breaking wine bottles with fire* to make funky one-of-a-kind tumbler sets for everyone I know.
Then this happened. In one file drawer I found:
- Two boxes of Halloween Dots that I forgot to give the boys last year. (I squished the box and they are not rock-hard, so I’ll give them this year if I manage to remember it a month from now. I’m sure they are fine.)
- 24 paper valentine boxes from the dollar bin.
- A set of Thanksgiving recipe cards.
- A box of candy canes. (Really?)
- A snowman making kit.
- An advent calendar.
- A pack of men’s underwear (I’ve long ceased trying to put anything interesting in Scott’s stocking; it is totally lost on him. I just put stuff he needs in there now. Must have missed this gem last year.)
- Gifts for my sister, sister-in-law, three friends, one of my nieces, and my mom (Score!)
- Two or three gifts I bought for some child at some point that now everyone has grown out of. (Penalty.)
- Eight paper Darth Vader masks that I must have bought for Noah’s Star Wars party and forgotten about. Ditto on three small Star Wars plush toys, six Star Wars Pez dispensers, two Star Wars pens, and a metal Yoda lunchbox. (This is not good.)
- Three new kitchen dish towels.
- A handmade kids bike basket.
- A mousepad that says “Stop Me Before I Volunteer Again.” (I must have bought that for myself in some moment of out-of-body clarity.)
- An iPhone 4 case with my kids photo on it that I bought for my mother-in-law last year only to discover she had an iPhone 3.
- Various soup and dip mixes and little soaps I bought in little cute shops while traveling in charming resort towns. (What is it about those towns that makes me want to buy dip?)
And that’s an abridged list. Perhaps the saddest find — or funniest, depending on my mood — is the book “The Night Before Kindergarten” that I bought for you-know-who with visions of a cozy bedtime interlude where we’d snuggle and read it and I’d cry wistful tears. I JUST bought that, but once in the pit-of-crap, er, gift drawer, it was promptly and completely forgotten.
I’m fortunate to have a fair amount of storage space, but that can be a mixed blessing. This kind of crap-creep happens to me regularly, a result of the convergence of impulse-purchase-retail-therapy and a tendency toward hoarding. Once in a while I give in to a fit of purging. I’ve forced myself to let all the candle stubs go. (I was saving those to make fire starters! Oh yeah, our fireplace is gas.) I’ve even gotten rid of dishes, linens, vintage pop bottle crates, candlesticks, baskets, and donated a bunch of my forgotten-until-all-the-kids-I-know-grew-out-of-it and dollar bin stuff to a kids auction at school.
But this happens more often than you’d think: I head to the basement looking for a certain thing I’ve been hanging on to that is now just perfect for a school project or party prop or now-useful stuff-containment device and remember that I got rid of it. And it happens just as often that I want to make a loaf of pumpkin bread as a thank you for a friend and I remember I have those cute dish towels (there used to be four) to wrap it up in and then remember with glee that I have the perfect silk flowers that came on a gift I received years ago and that I’ve been keeping for just this moment and of course I have ribbon to match in my scrap basket. (Whew.)
And I am so delighted with my cute little gift from stuff that was already in my house that I take a picture of it and send it to my mom.
So I guess I’ll keep my crap. In the end, it makes me happy, if for no other reason than it makes me laugh.
* And yes, I’ve been collecting wine bottles all year for this project. They are in the basement. Not only will these one-of-a-kind tumblers be handmade, I personally drank all the wine too. Now that’s a thoughtful gift.