I’m a procrastinator. It’s part laziness, part space-cadet-ness. I wish I could get extra points for an Energetic Response when I realize something should have been done 15 minutes ago, but for some reason that never happens. We moved twice this year, and last spring when my mom started calling a month before we were supposed to load up the truck to ask if I had started packing any boxes yet, I just laughed. “Mom,” I told her, “I always do this. It will get done, just all at the last minute.” Why on earth would I be packing boxes? (and surely she could still remember my senior year of high school, and the violin concerto I began practicing at home just days before I had to perform it with my school orchestra at a spring concert???)
So every year, around mid-December, I’m not sure why I’m surprised when despair sets in as I realize that the Giant List of Handmade Christmas Gifts that has been sprouting out of my brain for the last week or two has No Possible Way of reaching completion. This is always made worse by reading other blogs and feeling like everyone else is nearly finished with their handmade gifts (actually, it probably begins with all of the advent calendar posts, which always start popping up mid-November). “Why didn’t I start on these LAST month?” I think to myself. The answer can be broken down into three very simple themes, of my whole life actually: 1) Failure to Plan Ahead, 2) Poor Time Management and 2) Unrealistic Estimation of Actual Time.
On the first point, I need to be honest with myself: I’m just not the sort of person who gets into the “Christmas spirit” months in advance. At our November Crafty Meetup I was impressed to see a few of the gals puttering away on handmade Christmas gifts. I really was impressed, but did it motivate me to start or even plan out anything? Not really. I have to feel a sense of urgency to truly motivate myself to buckle down.
On the second two points, I was happy to see a recent post from dear Shannon on luvinthemommyhood about making handmade gifts and how she goes into December with a realistic number (three) of knitted gifts she’ll make, and this gem of wisdom:
“i made sure the list i had set out to make for december would be doable in the time frame i had given myself. that’s the trick folks…right there. make sure you have the actual time to finish these projects…not your dream time. all too often we think we will have tons of time but in reality things take a lot longer and that’s when the stress comes in. other obligations can get in the way. make sure the projects you choose are realistic and are something you truly would love to make for that person.”
Realistic estimation of the actual time I have is definitely an issue for me. In December I feel suddenly like I’ve been sucked into some alternate universe where time passes three times as quickly, but in reality it’s just that I don’t realize just how little free time I have to make the giant stack of imagined gifts that would have made it the Best Christmas Ever.
So this year, instead of feeling bad that I don’t have all kinds of handmade gifts to show you or a new series of tutorials and posts entitled “Fabulous Last Minute Gifts” as Christmas approaches, I decided not to worry about it. And guess what? As soon as I decided I didn’t care, I felt suddenly motivated yesterday to complete this little tablet sleeve for Mr Rae. Hah!
It’s a Christmas Miracle! (ok that may be a slight exaggeration but it cracks me up to think of one completed gift counting as a Christmas Miracle) And it might be the only thing I’ll finish in time to wrap under the tree, but that’s just fine. The lowered expectation is key. So if you’re currently suffering from Christmas Craft-Related-Despair, it’s time to just let it go. It’s just not worth the stress. And if you’ve already gotten a pile of handmade gifts completed and wrapped under the tree, you’re probably Feeling Smug by Comparison (and: you’re welcome!!!)
Finally, I thought I would present to you A Thorough but Not Exhaustive Photographic Collection of Unfinished Projects Currently Sitting Around My Sewing Room that, if nothing else, exhibits my inability to complete one thing before beginning another. Because by golly there’s nothing that makes me feel better than seeing someone else’s pile of UFOs and I figure some of you are the same. Plus you know as soon as I see them all here taunting me, I’ll make myself a liar and finish them (part of my reasoning for putting them up in the first place). Here we go:
Fig A: Flannel PJ pants for C that have been finished/worn for at least 2 months, still needing a PJ top to match (that would be that neatly folded pile of fabric on top there)
Fig B: Christmas Charlie Dress, finished for two weeks now, still needing buttons and button loops
Fig C: Pants for Elliot, only partially cut (got distracted by something halfway through no doubt). Someday could be the Awesomest Pair of Pants on a 5-year-old ever.
Fig D: More PJ’s for Clem out of Cape Ann with matching leggings
Fig E: Radioactive* Green Pants that JUST NEED POCKETS GAH!!! *at least I presume that explains their inability to be photographed clearly? They seriously look like they are glowing.
Fig F: Big pile of burp cloths in varying states of completion
There. Don’t you feel better already? How’s that list of handmade thingies coming along for you?