December 27, 2010

Its funny how things aren't as they seem.   This truth is a deep one, ultimately a salvation, yet a consistent pain in the ass here and now.

It seems so snotty to me, sitting here talking about handmade holidays.  Does it read as judgment?  It is, partially.  I mean, its no secret the holiday has gotten out of hand.   Where does it go, this holiday out of hand?  It goes to the mall, right?  What archetype, message, or love is that?   I have hardly any friends who can afford Christmas.  Literally, most of us put it on a credit card.  What archetype, message, or love is that?  This, we visit upon the heads of the children.  This is exactly where we pass the neurosis along.  We are teaching them this, as much as we are giving them this.  This present.  This presence.  This archetype, message, and form of love.

I knitted a sweater for Riley this year.  I bought the pattern online from a young designer who recently suffered a stroke and is relearning to walk.  (Her blog is here, scroll down to see the owls.) I bought the pattern because its cute.  And it isn't hard, either.  Its straight forward, as patterns go.  I've knit much more complicated cables and lace.

I don't think I've ever struggled so hard with a piece of knitting.  In the moment I pondered the problem.  I'm still pondering.  I think it was a spiritual issue, but I'm not clear exactly how.  I reknit it several times.  I almost put it in the trash.  It caused me agony.  Agony isn't a very nice present, is it?  Usually, in fact every single time, I knit a present for someone it is knit intentionally.  Every stitch is a consideration, a dream, and a wish for that person.  And I don't mean that in a high minded way.  I simply mean, these dreams and considerations of color, pattern, lifestyle, taste, activity, all the things one might desire from a knitted garment, these are the stitches that draw me physically and mentally along the needle.  And don't think all that consideration equals something perfect.  Its not about perfection.  But for sure, it is about consideration.

Somehow, magically almost, the sweater was finished on Christmas Eve.  The least perfect sweater I've ever made, for my darling daughter on Christmas Eve.  I had mixed feelings about the imperfections but they don't show.  The same finishing magic was at work for my son.   A couple of years ago I painted a few glow in the dark stars over his bed and promised to finish them later.  Christmas Eve, after eyes were stitched on owls, I got busy with a tube of paint and a brush.  I spent a couple of hours with his ceiling.  That evening I had a surprise for each child, a gift from me to them.

Learning is often painful.  But I hope we are getting somewhere and I hope that where is logged here correctly.  Its not about snooty handmade-ivity.  Its not about being more perfect.  Its about more love and less things.  Its an oddly difficult transition for me.  But then, its hardly taught and certainly not what's handed down, culturally.  This is the first year we bought Christmas almost completely without a credit card.   I fretted it wasn't enough.  There weren't enough presents, I falsely worried.  But honestly, my failing is in presence, that's where I need to give more.  That's what I'm trying to learn.  Presence doesn't live at Biltmore, doesn't live at the mall, doesn't live in a stitch.

What is the metaphor of a baby in a barn?  Bring your love.  Be honest.  Keep it real. There isn't anything else a baby needs.  And we are all babies.


SabrinaT said...

Amazing post!! I tried knitting for my boys a couple years ago.. It was a disaster..

val said...

As usual a thoughtful, idea full post.

And thank you for speaking up against competition of whose gifts are more home-made special than someone else's.

Life is very good. love, Val

Cecelia (CC) said...

Ahhh, yes, this struggle. Your ideas welcome. I agreed to the Santa myth and with that gave away my power. I think we may have made it through the final year when presents must magically appear with no concern for the source. Had they known, or admitted it out loud, they never could have asked to start with. This year we introduced gifts with no name, that is, TO no one in particular. We plan to do this again - just general family-centered gifts. As for handmade, good for you. I am still making my sister's gift as we speak. I am open to the learning.

Katherine said...

Ooh, gifts to no one person...what a great idea. Thanks. :o)