Wednesday night, the four of us spent a few hours preparing our Christmas cards.
Yes, in October.
No, no, NO, I am not usually that organized.
But for the past few years, I’ve tried to include a little assembly-line sort of handmade ornament or decoration to include in our Christmas cards, because that’s part of how I judge whether I’m too busy with work and other things. If I can’t find time to make the kids’ Halloween costumes, put something together for Christmas, and create Valentines, then I’m too busy and need to cut back somewhere. It hasn’t been much of an issue now that I’m only working the one job and home a lot, but when I was working three part-time jobs and going to grad school full time, it was a stretch, some years.
Anyway, usually I wait until December to even think about Christmas cards, and they get mailed on the 22nd, give or take. Last year, I had the idea of making faux stained glass decorations with fall leaves to send out… but it was long, long past leaf season. So I shelved the idea, and by the grace of sheer dumb luck I remembered it in time to implement this year. (There’s a how-to here that is close to what we did… though I did the ironing directly on the kitchen table and then used bleach spray to get the melted wax [mostly] off.)
It’s a cute little project, combining a hot iron, family time, and recycled crayons, and the results are entirely unremarkable just sitting on the floor…
…but look pretty held up to the light.
And it got me thinking, because I do a fair number of craft projects like this, with the kids and occasionally on my own. I’m less into the idea of crafting just for its own sake than I used to be, but if I can come up with a functional project, I’ll happily lug out the sewing machine or papier-mâché to create cloth napkins or a Halloween mask. Of course, there’s the knitting, too, which I find tactilely soothing and happily functional. It comes from being a fairly quiet and contained kid with good manual dexterity, and a slew of grandmothers and great-grandmothers with endless skills to pass on, I think.
I don’t, however, consider myself to be especially creative. I can come up with independent designs once in a while (a la the “Knit This” tab, up at the top there) but they’re always building off some preexisting pattern or stitch design. I can copy or adapt ideas comfortably enough, but I don’t freehand draw or independently create artwork. I don’t have visions that I transform into objects, I just follow directions and understand the mechanics behind things fairly adeptly.
To me, this makes me crafty and somewhat skilled, but not creative. Mine is the ability to figure out how to bring something from concept to reality, but not the ability to come up with that original concept in the first place.
It’s an oddity, and perhaps not worth the pixels that it took to express the thought, but it matters to me. My sisters each have an ability to draw and sculpt that I don’t have (genetics are so unfair sometimes) and Willem can conceptualize things numerically (not to mention, play chess) in ways that I simply can’t wrap my head around. It’s not that I’m trying to downplay my own abilities; for someone who’s only been knitting shapes beyond rectangles for three years, I think I do damn well, and I’m almost always pleased with our homemade efforts when it comes to Christmas cards and gifts. It’s just a case of trying to accurately describe my own abilities.
What do you think? Are you crafty, or creative, or something else entirely? Or, neither? Am I just way overthinking this?