What Martha doesn’t tell you
You know, before I size my hand-made britches too large, I think it’s important to divulge that a creative life isn’t all about completed to-do lists and perfectly executed works of practical art. I wonder who else has baskets of half-finished projects that get put away long before the tree hits the curb.
I love Martha Stewart and all the creative gurus like her. But I wish they’d show more behind the scenes, about the projects that go terribly wrong, or that ended up to be totally not worth the trouble.
Christmastime is the best of times and the worst of times when it comes to creativity. There are so many opportunities to think about beautiful, personalized, hand-made gifts, greetings, decorations and treats. Never does the world glitter with possibility as it does in the last dark month of the year. But we’re running like crazy people, trying to fit in shopping, cooking, cherished time with friends and family.
This year, as always, I had grand plans: Hand-made cards. Personalized gifts for my brother and his family. Cookies. A home sparkling with greens, lights and colors. Well, some of those goals came to pass. Others didn’t.
The card template didn’t work on my printer. I bought the wrong pattern for my brother’s family’s gifts. I burned half my cookies trying to do laundry and bake simultaneously. The house barely was cleaned, much less decorated.
But I ordered copies of my best photograph as a greeting card, and made the rest into an online slideshow.
I took an evening to slow down and make cookies again; this time, Isaac helped with mixing and cutting. My brother’s family’s gifts still are a pile of uncut fabric and tissue paper, but they’ve been understanding. (Thanks, guys.)
Sometimes it’s been an exercise in frustration. But I think there’s a lesson there, if I can learn it, to slow down, simplify, celebrate success, play together and ask for understanding when things don’t go the way you’d planned. And the understanding needs to come from within, as well.
For the new year, I think I need to look at creativity the same way people ask us to look at charity. It should be all year round, not concentrated in the glitter of the holidays. And in order to be successful, I need to ask less of myself and cherish more appreciation for not just the completed projects but the process, too.
No. 1 on my list for 2010: My brother’s Christmas gift for 2009.
It’s coming, before Valentine’s Day!