I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a skilled crafter. Sure, I can crochet a scarf that looks like a scarf and I have successfully made some mosaic stepping stones. I even managed to make these lovely vase fillers after some inspiration from Pinterest. But many things, like knitting, quilting and sewing take a little too much precision for me to attempt.
Instead I am the person who brings her too-long pants to her 94-year-old grandma to have them hemmed. And, the last time, to have a button sewn back on. It’s my not-so-secret shame. I guess my mom caught on to my antics though and the next thing I knew she was planning a sewing weekend for us so I could learn to hem my own clothes.
This was back in December and the holiday madness and exhaustion afterwards kept us from getting together until last weekend. On Friday she showed up at our house in Portland with the Singer she bought long before I was born, ready to teach me the ways of the needle.
About seven years ago or so, I helped start a crafting group with my friend Oliver Lucky. It was called the Crafty Bitches and consisted of the two of us and a mutual friend. As the Crafty Bitches, we would get together on Sundays (we tried to meet consistently every week, but then we’d fall off the wagon) and enjoy a day of eating, drinking and crafting.
While it was certainly a blast, the problems were plentiful and quite obvious. We were not that great at crafting — even though we had big dreams, we seemed to fall a little short talent-wise. We didn’t always have all of the supplies we needed and often had no clue how to go about actually making some of the things we wanted to try. We also drank a lot of wine when we crafted and our ambition tended to crumble. We once decided to mainline six consecutive hours of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge instead of learning how to mosaic a stepping stone.
I really meant to take down all of my holiday decorations last weekend. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do after the first of January? You take down all the sparkling lights and stockings and stash them away again until next December. I know that’s the way it works — I do it faithfully every year. But this January I’m having trouble. I look at the strings of lights glimmering, the lit-up stars twinkling lazily below them, and just can’t bear to do it.
I don’t know what’s making it so much harder this year. Maybe it’s because last summer came and went too quickly, and with this gray and dismal weather, it’s nice to have some cheerfulness around. The lights brighten up the house and make the long dark nights a little cozier.
Maybe I can compromise…I’ll pack away the wreaths and my little wooden Santas, and even all of my cinnamon-scented pine cones, but I’m keeping the lights up. They will be my winter night lights — helping me believe that even though I’ve got months to go until summer, I’m pretty sure I can make it.
I discovered a magical thing this week — the Yule Log on Netflix. I don’t think my husband likes it but I have fallen in love. I have always wanted to live somewhere with a fireplace, must be some nostalgia from my childhood in Alaska. Even though, in all honestly, we hardly even used our fireplace growing up — something about it actually making the house colder. Nonsense, I say.
Since leaving home I’ve never had the opportunity to live anywhere with a fireplace. Enter the yule log — oh magical yule log with its hypnotizing flicker. You can hear cracklings from the fire occasionally over the Christmas music, which is thankfully all instrumental. It may just be a video of a fire slowly burning, but it’s an excellent substitution for the real thing.
In fact, I may have gotten so cozy curled up on the couch that my husband caught me pretending to warm my hands by the TV screen. I tried to play it off, but I don’t think he believed me. And it’s been downhill from there. He thinks it’s creepy so he refuses to be in the same room when it’s on. Thus it’s become my guilty pleasure. If he’s at work, you will find me cuddled up with some boozy hot cocoa enjoying the yule log. On repeat.