One Day I Will Rule the World

World Domination, Babies and Middle Eastern Dance

January 4, 2011

Retrospective


Okay, so, it has been a hell of a Christmas Season. During the height of all our handcrafting, I fully intended to come back with updates and braggery about how crafty we were, but now, of course, it’s all so distant and who even cares.

Just kidding! I care.

So, we’re still paying off that wedding from the summer. I thought that wedding was so tiny – and yet, still so expensive. Why does anyone do it, huh? Nevermind, that’s a post for another day. Regardless, every year I wish I had the time to do more handcrafted gifts, or just gifts that have more time and heart than money. But every year, Christmas seems to sneak up on me and then I throw money at it (because my deepest fear is failing at Christmas).

So last fall, I think I had a magical moment of thinking, “So we can’t afford Christmas, eh? Perfect!

And so were forced to plan early and we handcrafted as many gifts as we could.

My first project was a Christmas apron for my cousin – based quite a bit on the Emmeline apron.

I’ve been coveting that pattern for a while – and while I still intend to someday buy and try it, it wasn’t in the budget this fall – so I designed my own.

I liked how that one turned out so well that I had to make a similar one for my coworker for her birthday. Something about this green/white combination and redheads, I guess. Or, something about these two that I know they can pull off ironic housewife chic.

Speaking of ironic housewife chic – that coworker gave me, for Christmas, a set of martini glasses, which proved perfect for showcasing Christmas martinis.

What goes into such a Christmas martini, you might wonder. And I will tell you: remember that recipe for spiced, candied cranberries? I hope that when it came time to drain the cranberries, you kept the syrup because you can store it in a jar in the fridge for at least a month and you can mix a tablespoon or so into your vodka and cranberry juice and it tastes like Christmas. Pictured here with frozen cranberry ice cubes and a candy-cane (the bottom part of which was broken off and crushed to rim the glass. Dip the glass rim in your spiced syrup first and your candycane crumbs will stick better).

In the background of this picture, you can kind of make out the ridiculous piece of quilting that took up most of my december. I don’t have any better pictures of it – pity that. But in spite of its being a very small piece (a dust-cover for my Mother-in-Law’s synthesizer keyboard), it took 200 pieces and drove me slightly crazy.

So, other yet-undocumented accomplishments include my first attempt at cake-decorating because Hannah wanted a Diego cake for her birthday. And this super-sweet knitted pachyderm for Hannah’s Christmas present. And, actually, many other creative & brilliant presents that I apparently failed to photograph before giving away. Dammit.

Also, one of the most beautiful Christmas trees I have ever decorated. (Tragically scarring my children by 1, involving them only minimally in the decorating process and 2, not being interested in showcasing school crafts on the tree. Refrigerators, walls, windows – fine. But not my tree.)

Well, actually, Rachel snuck a penguin ornament with a picture of herself onto the tree in a wall-facing corner and I have left it there because I enjoy the touching symbolism of my little waif sneaking representations of herself into my austere Christmas – like a glimpse of a seventeenth century orphan through your frosted window panes.

Also in December, I was supposed to be sewing wedding cloaks for a good friend and her fiancée – who were getting married on New Year’s Day. I spent one Thursday night cutting and a Friday night sewing the velvet outer layer for my friend’s cloak. Then my friend came over on a Saturday morning and helped cut out the faux fur lining. I continued working all afternoon and evening to get it pieced and sewn together enough that the outer and inner pieces could be joined – though absolutely every edge on it still needed measuring, trimming, folding over and finishing. That was all I was able to do until Christmas – and then Christmas day, her fiancée arrived, bringing with her the taffeta that was to become her cloak (one week out from the wedding. I know, right?). They didn’t get that to me until late boxing day, so I didn’t get any sewing done that day.

The rest of the week was intensely rough. For the last little while at work, my team has been working on new development that’s needed for a couple of projects that are starting up (and some already started) and just before Christmas we had reached the point of getting oriented on our next project – meaning that all this stuff that still isn’t ready for new projects is hanging around, competing with our focus on new projects. Also one of my teammates was gone on holiday the week between Christmas and new years. I kept thinking, “it will be a quiet week at work with few distractions, I’ll just see how far I can go to get this stuff wrapped up for when everyone’s back in the office” – only it was a short week, and also, every hour spent at work, was an hour I wasn’t working on a cloak that needed to be done for Saturday. On the 27th, my aunt VagabondQueen spent most of the day helping me cut out fabric. That night I stayed up well past midnight. The next night, after a big, loud, nervewracking family supper and final holiday gift exchange, I came home and stayed up again past midnight, also keeping Ian up and putting him to work ironing taffeta & pinning things in order to get the second cloak to the point where it could be tried on its owner Thursday so it could be hemmed Friday to be worn Saturday. Turns out that was ridiculously optimistic. By Thursday night I was feeling totes ill and burnt out from going to work at 7 to get extra quiet-time (aside: huzzahs for the work though, I finally had uninterrupted time to finish a giant chunk of work and tackle a bunch of lingering little things) and then staying up until 1 sewing – so I stayed home from the wedding shower Thursday night to relax and do a little sewing with my mum’s help — only to stay up until 1 again sewing. I had Friday off, so I got up early to go to the hotel and get Bride #2 to try on her cloak over her dress so I could pin the hem. The first cloak had got through its hemming, but had sleeves much too short, so I left with promises that I would get the first cloak fixed and the second cloak hemmed and have them back at the hotel at 1:00 for their 2:00 pictures.

I had entertained thoughts of putting in appearances at some parties I had been invited to – not major appearances since we didn’t have childcare, so they would have been Ianless appearances. Still, no. My aunt Apple helped with pinning and hand-sewing all afternoon. Ian helped with pinning and ripping out sleeve seams all evening. At 11:55, while sewing a seam, I noticed, at the end of sewing it, that it had been pinned wrong. I sat there cussing for a bit before finally deciding to finish off the last few inches and see if that seam could be salvaged – and in those inches, my needle broke – the second needle of the night and I had no more of that gauge. I burst into tears and looked up at the clock and it was midnight.

Sigh. I guess if you’re into all that symbolism and reasonings about fair things and omens and crap – then I could say, “2011 can only get better.” Or something.

But I don’t believe in those things very much. And also, a bad week aside, my life is already pretty good.

Over our brief supper that night, I had invited Rachel and Hannah (Ethan was asleep in his room) to make some New Year’s wishes for the family . I can’t tell you specifically, otherwise, the kids assure me, they won’t come true, but most of them amounted to “let’s have more of the good things we have.”

Oh, also, Hannah wished for us to get married on the boat again. I can tell you that one because I don’t want it to come true. Sorry Hannah.

Anyhow, insane as it is, even though we stayed up until 2 that night, we still had so much to do that I was up and sewing again at 9, I had Ian working with me constantly. My aunt and mum arrived at 11 and the four of us worked constantly & feverishly from 11 to 1. At 1:00 I whipped them off the mannequin and the sewing machine, threw them in a tupperware container, texted my friend that we were running late and ran to the hotel with their cloaks. The cloaks were beautiful and the brides were grateful and I hear the photos were amazing, but I haven’t seen them yet.

That was a long saga, eh?

TL;DR version: Worked crazy hours while sewing crazy hours, wildly burnt out and exhausted. Accomplished so much (yes I am fucking amazing) and had a good Christmas, but So Glad it’s over.

And the subtext, really, is that I guess I just wanted to acknowledge a little bit how fragile I am right now, and how unsurprising it is. In my experience, whenever I put myself through a period like this, where we are hanging on by a thread and telling ourselves, “just have to make it to X”, as soon as we make it to X, with all our resources exhausted, something kicks us in the ass. Even though I have been saying I could relax at this point, I am still braced for impact.

Maybe this is a reminder to myself that a good new year’s resolution would be to conserve more of myself – to gas up at a quarter tank instead of driving until empty.

Well, lastly, and more upliftingly, here is a picture of most of my Christmas presents.

Speaking of conserving – I think a really lovely thing about this Christmas is the amount of thrifting, garage-saling, regifting, recycling, upcycling, hand-crafting and just “found in my house for you” gifts there were. And, as you can see, they were quite, quite lovely. I love it and I want to do more of it.

9 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Alison

     /  2011-01-04

    Megan, I think you’re amazing and I love you so much. It was a beautiful Christmas and I too loved the recycled / thrifted / handmade theme. I wish for you all the good things you already have in your life but at a more leisurely pace with room to breathe and relax and enjoy.

    Reply
  2. Deb C

     /  2011-01-04

    I bet if we had a family/friend gathering on the river boat this summer, Hannah would love it almost as much as getting you getting married all over again. And it would be more relaxing and enjoyable, and also since everyone would pay for their own tickets, it wouldn’t run anyone into debt.

    I will post a picture of the shelves you & Ian gave us sometime soon. They are sooo gorgeous.

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  3. I agree we should just have a family and friends gathering on the river boat. I’m in favour of just an afternoon outing, though Ian’s dad was all, “we should do this every year. If everyone paid their own way it would be a totally reasonable Canada Day party,” and he has a point – but it would still take organizing 25+ people in order to make the cost reasonable so I’m going to backburner the private fireworks tour for some other year.

    This year, we can just pick some Saturday or Sunday afternoon to visit the Mendel and then go for a boat ride with the common people.

    Reply
  4. Alison

     /  2011-01-04

    I think you do very right about decorating your tree (and it was so gorgeous). Today, I visited a friend and her tree was still up. Even though her children are grown up her tree is still decorated with their childhood efforts. Because she has never done anything differently their tender little psyches would probably be damaged if she changed it now. She will have to have a tree decorated with unidentifiable objects made of macaroni, glitter, and popsicle sticks into perpetuity.

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  5. Thanks Alison (for the compliments) – and also, yes to the tree.

    Yeesh, I was going to say something uplifting about the different ways there are of showing your kids that they’re important and that showing them how to create their own oases of beauty is also important, but then I spent ten minutes arguing purposelessly with Ethan because both he and Rachel were misbehaving and Rachel instantly responded to the lecture with contrition, and Ethan responded by arguing and arguing and THEEEEEN telling me how unfair I am because I spent more than twice as long lecturing him as I spent lecturing Rachel. So instead, I’ll rest on a wry “no matter what you do you’re going to traumatize their precious little psyches so who farking cares. You may as well have a pretty tree.”

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  6. Alison

     /  2011-01-04

    a) no offence, but is spending time with Ian’s dad how we really want to spend our Canada Day?

    b) I think some of this stuff is about whether a woman identifies herself as an autonomous person first or as a mother first. If it is as a mother first then every moment of every day is spent catering to their tender little psyches – their crafts are all important because that is all there is and it reaffirms who the mother is. And then when they are gone there is an empty shell.

    I rather pointedly asked my friend today who she was going to be now that being a mother no longer came first. Then she told me about how she hadn’t helped her son (almost 20) pack for a trip except to give him a bottle of lotion because he’d get wind burnt. I asked if that was supposed to be a sad story. I’m soooo sympathetic.

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  7. The Duchess

     /  2011-01-12

    I would try to be as eloquent as the rest of you, but it’s just not happening today. LOL!

    The cloaks were beautiful, and we are grateful from the bottom of our hearts. We so appreciate all the time and effort, and countless hours, put into them (by everyone) for our special day. Thank you so much! I will email you all some pictures as soon as I get them!

    As for the tree, we had a combination of “special” ornaments and handcrafted ornaments, and when we moved out many of the family ornaments were passed on to us. I always love how my tree is a combination of old and new… but then, I’m pretty sentimental sometimes. 😉 And my psyche would probably be scarred if we did it any other way. 🙂

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  8. Yikes, The Duchess’ comment got lost in moderation limbo for a long time there. I don’t know how I missed that. 🙁

    Reply
  9. I think it’s really easy to get sucekd into those kind of situations, sometimes unaware, and its only when you’ve extricated yourself that you realise how spiritually dirty it made you feel. It’s not easy, though, especially as for instance you might have to work with these people or they might be your relations. I am trying to work on setting boundaries, and truly believing I have the right to express these, but it can be difficult!

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