Just about everyone who knows me is aware that I am all thumbs when it comes to crafts. I can paint a fairly decent picture, and I can take darn good photos, but when it comes to doing the kind of craft that involves dexterity and coordination, I’m not your girl.
Case in point: my childhood, when Nonna [Grandma] decided to pass her old country [Sicily] craft and cooking skills on to me.
Cooking lessons, which Nonna believed were the most important for a future Italian-American housewife, came first. Fortunately for Macho Guy, I aced the cooking lessons. I make a topnotch white clam sauce and a mean Baked Ziti.
When it came to the crafts, however, I was at the bottom of the deck. Every weekday when I arrived home from elementary school, Nonna and I would have tea and biscotti [I was deemed too young for espresso] followed almost immediately by torture. That’s what the craft lessons were for me. Torment. Misery. Agony of the highest order.
Nonna began the craft lessons with beginner crocheting. She showed me the basic techniques. Nonna’s hands moved so quickly they looked as if they were on fast forward. I asked her to demonstrate more slowly and she did. I attempted to duplicate her movements. I failed. She crocheted a two-inch doily in the time it took me to complete three stitches in a row without dropping one. We made the mutual decision that crocheting and I were not made for each other.
Then came knitting. Nonna thought I would do better at knitting because the needles, the yarn, and the stitches were bigger and thicker—easier for me to manipulate. It was a sound theory that we were unable to prove true. I struggled with knit one, drop one, purl one, drop two, and so on. Meanwhile, Nonna’s knitting needles moved so quickly all I saw was a blur. We made the mutual decision that knitting and I were not made for each other either.
We went back to cooking lessons where I was her star pupil. Thank you, Nonna!
A couple of weekends ago, I babysat four of my grandchildren while their parents were in Indianapolis at the Michigan State/Iowa game. It was too cold for outdoor games. The kids played on their tablets, played with trains, cars and trucks, played with Grandma’s jewelry, watched a video, read stories, drew with crayons, and then they began to look bored. Uh-oh.
In an act of bravado that may go down in history, or may be diagnosed as a case of temporary insanity, I suggested making homemade Christmas ornaments. The moment the words tripped over my tongue and passed through my lips, I cringed. My incompetence was about to be exposed in front of my grandchildren. What had I done? Naturally, the kids thought making their own Christmas ornaments was a great idea, so I couldn’t let on that I didn’t know the first thing about crafting Christmas ornaments. I had to think fast. Fortunately, inspiration struck.
I went online and the kids helped me search for homemade Christmas ornaments. We struck out several times—a bunch of them were too hard to make, and we didn’t have all the materials to make some others. Finally, we found a template we could adapt to the materials we had, and it actually appeared to be easy to make. Victory was at hand. After printing copies of the template, and assembling corrugated paper, colored construction paper, old Christmas cards, glue sticks, string, and scissors, we got to work. The results were not at all embarrassing and were surprisingly satisfactory—even kind of cute.
Since we’ll be on the road before Christmas, we didn’t have a tree set up on which we could hang the newly crafted ornaments.
As luck would have it, we experienced a Christmas miracle—multi-colored Christmas lights on a decorative artificial birch tree in the living room. MG and I never noticed that we left the lights on it a few Christmases ago. We turned on the lights and the kids hung their creations on the little birch tree. Success! Who would have believed it?
No one. That’s why I took this photo.