Friday, February 22, 2008

Pretty Things

Continued from here, here, here, here , here, and here.
A long time ago, our younger girls came to live with us just before Christmas. One of the first things they asked to do in order to amuse themselves, was to "make Christmas decorations". This basically consisted of chopping through reams of paper at whirlwind speed, scribbling sayings like "Mary Crismas to Mom" and shoving them at me every few minutes, waiting expectantly for gushing praise and thanks. The table and floor were littered with refuse, and the countless creations that adorned my refrigerator were hard to discern from the garbage on the floor.

I have to confess that my innermost self shriveled in distaste, so alien was this behavior to me. I have long loved creating pretty things, and this wanton destruction of perfectly good art supplies offended my sensibilities. For years my medium has been fabric, and even as a child I loved the feel and color of beautiful fabric. As I grew to adulthood, I honed my sewing skills, and came to love EXPENSIVE fabric. Even now, my tastes run far ahead of my wallet, and I have to content myself with scouring the bargain tables for exquisite scraps.

Recently I inherited several large boxes and bundles that came from my grandmother's home. They were her sewing supplies, and the family felt that I should have them since I am the only granddaughter who sews. I discover that I come by it naturally, as Grandma's boxes held beautiful pieces of excellent fabric, with little notes attached, detailing what she had paid for each. Clearly she scoured the bargain tables too, looking only for the choice morsels. More evidence that the apple does not fall far from the tree became obvious when I found a hand written note in one box. It was written on a little scrap of card, and reads:
"Put back the spools in the color class it belongs with."
Who the note was intended for I will never know. Perhaps it was a reminder to herself, or an unnamed intruder to her sewing basket? My husband and I had a good laugh over it, because he teases me about my color coded thread bins.

This month I spent some time doing something I haven't done much of lately. In fact I suspect that my neglect of this pursuit has been partly to blame for my leaky self. But when you begin with an IMPORTANT TASK, you often put frivolous activities aside, telling yourself that these things no longer matter. You pour yourself into your work, and forget about making pretty things. This is not good for you, or me. It is in this way that we drain off much of our vitality, calling it unimportant. Making pretty things improves the quality of my life. It makes me happy, and when Mama's happy...well, you know. Besides, you never know when someone is watching.

On this particular day I spent extra time, selecting fabric, deciding how to configure the colors and textures. I took great care cutting the pieces, sewing straight seams. The result was exactly how I'd imagined it. Close by, Sweet 'Tatie was making Valentines. She came to me with a huge stack of colored paper in her arms. "What color should I use?" "Whatever you think is pretty Tater." Carefully she chose pink and yellow. I was a few feet away, pinning my creation. I could hear her humming as she clipped and colored. After some time had gone by, she hopped up to show me her masterpiece. It was a giant yellow heart on a pink field. In it were cut little windows that opened outward. Behind each window was carefully printed in marker, words like "love", "joy", and "peace". I nodded my approval over her thoughtful presentation. I told her that her teacher would love it. She looked past me to my sewing, and gushed, "Ooooh Mommy, that's pretty!"

My dear friend BJ commented to me recently that they can learn that their lives have value, that life can be made of quality materials, and that it will hold up under duress. A quiet afternoon, working in close proximity, making something pretty confirms that. Cracks can be mended, and lives can be refilled with something good.

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