Sunday, November 28, 2010

Home Made

Thanks to everyone who commented on my Christmas shopping post. Murr, who has a wonderful blog, mentioned how she makes her gifts. Which I love.

Husband and I decided our first married Christmas to make each other something. And I was instantly outdone. Let me say upfront that I have no artistic or craft skills. I cannot knit, sew, paint, draw, or otherwise create. I can bake, but as I bake cookies all the time that's hardly a gift. So I wracked my brain and came up with the only thing I can do which is write. I wrote a packet of letters from me to him as if we were living in early 1900s and I were touring Egypt. I wrote about the archeological sites I'd seen, going down the Nile, and various stories about my fellow travellers. Then I aged the paper with tea and creases, tied it all up in a red ribbon, and that was it.

And then Husband went and made a book.

Here's the background.

Years ago my friends and I wrote a parody of cheesy Romance novels entitled The Adventures of Aphrodesia Lovejoy about an incredibly clueless heroine working as a governess in a brooding castle full of handsome rakes and one well-hung carriage driver. This book was really special to me and my friends and remains a source of happiness. But it was really a collection of stories written about all of us printed out on a Mac and stapled together. So Husband, who has a background in publishing, hand made a hardcover book. Complete with a dust jacket and slipcase. He even got my friends to write those blurbs like you see on bestsellers. Imagine Husband contacting ex-husband for an author's blurb! He hand sewed the folios together, put in end papers, it looks like an actual published hardcover book. There are even illustrations gathered from some of the worst romance covers ever published.

It is, in short, amazing. I mean no slight to my "took all of an hour" letter project, but holy cats! He must have spent two or three months formatting, getting the info from our friends, learning how to actually make a book by hand, and doing the work. And, to top it off, he wrote a hilarious epilogue to the saga. It was easily the most incredible gift I've ever received.

The problem is, how do I compete with that? I mean I know it's not a competition, but really. It's like I give someone a hand-made ashtray and they give me a Porsche. And no, of course not, he never made me feel like that. It's just my natural insecurities coming out when faced with amazement. Husband pronounced himself delighted with the letters, but that book...!

So that ended the handmade gift thing. The next year I looked at what I could do in terms of making things and said "nope, not gonna." And, frankly, I think Husband was relieved too because he couldn't top it either.

My hand made, hardcover Christmas gift remains a treasured possession. And, to make it even better, Husband went above and beyond and made books for every one of my friends who had written chapters. And they treasure them as well.

Husband is incredible. But I'm glad I don't have the pressure of making something or, worse, coming up with an idea of what to make. Besides, I love buying him gifts. And yet I live in awe of those of you who can, and do, hand make.


Murr Brewster said...

That's what Dave said, when I admitted I didn't want to make presents this year for the first time in thirty years--"it will be a relief. This year, you won't be handing over picture quilts that took you fifty hours to make to people who say, 'great! Here's your spatula.'"

On the other hand, if you want an idea, you could always make up a fake nekkid girlie magazine starring yourself. This works best if you do it fifteen years ago.

Thank you for the flattering mention. I'm looking for the blush emoticon.

Duke said...

Your husband is a rare person indeed for giving such a thoughful gift that reflects not only your talents but his as well. It's just as rare that the person receiving it appreciates the effort. You are both lucky.

Both me and my wife are handy types who made many gifts over the years. She still makes quilts for her family. You may have seen them on her blog. I think she comments here from time to time.

Most of the people she gives them to do not appreciate it. They don't seem to care she spent countless hours sewing and quilting. Although it hasn't happened to her, a friend gave a quilt once only to visit later and find it laying on the floor being used as a dog bed. That's the usual level of appreciation you get.

My dad was a woodworker who made many nice items for people such as wall clocks. Things that would cost $1,000 from a craftsman. People would say they can get a clock at Walmart for $20 and often threw his away. Dad stopped making things for people.

Pearls before swine applies to handcrafted items. I simply won't do it either.