Happy Thanksgiving to all celebrating! I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend.
I love this time of year! What else can I say!!
Our house is just beginning to look a lot like a theme confused Christmas. Yay! High fives all around!
Let’s see, we’ve got some red buffalo check, some mid 1980’s loud and boisterous multi-color with the always beautiful silver tinsel and a little traditional, classy Christmas going on up in here. Can you picture it? It’s a little bit of all kinds of something, but we are well on our way to fully getting our jingle on.
The holiday grind
In addition to all the jingling we’ve been doing, Clem’s been working hard to build our usual skating rink in the backyard. The only problem we’re running into is that we’ve hit some balmy weather (Canadian speak for not fucking freezing at -40°C), which has threatened to melt our large and intentional block of ice. Hopefully we won’t lose what we’ve started and can continue on and use it shortly. I would normally welcome warm weather, but this is the exception.
For the past few days, Clem and I have been running around trying to pick up the gifts on our list for our families for Christmas. As it stands, we (like many others) are being limited on what we can do and where we can go, so this year’s gift giving has become quite the adventure. Normally, I’d make everyone something and include a gift card to their favorite retail outlet of choice, tucked within an apology note begging for forgiveness because I thought the homemade gift would’ve turned out better, but things haven’t been normal.
Sadly, making items just isn’t happening this year. It’s sad because I love making gifts for everyone. And that’s also sad because that’s how I get my merry on.
I say this now, but it could change
I swear, I am not making anything…well, I say that and then at the very last possible minute I usually roll out my deranged version of the Oprah Show Christmas Giveaway, and make absolutely everyone something of some kind, out of whatever it is that I have. I don’t know why, but that’s just what I do. I cram it all in the week before we gather for the holidays and I start Santa’s Crack Fueled Workshop in the basement of my home, where I crank out the shittiest handmade items known to man.
I am committed, yes I am. And you’re probably thinking, she should be committed…probably couldn’t agree with you more. It’s possibly more of an overreaction to the extreme jollies I feel closer to Santa’s arrival that kicks up the creative juices, but I really have no idea. When I first saw the movie Elf, I was absolutely convinced that someone caught a glimpse of my Christmas personality and portrayed it perfectly as Buddy the Elf . Terrifying, isn’t it?
Anyhow, with all this pandemic-onium going on this year, I didn’t enter my favorite little quilting store that’s close by because having a 15 minute appointment to peruse and get ideas for quilted gifts, just isn’t enough time for an amateur like me. It’s quite sad actually because I don’t know if they’ll survive all of this. They’re not fully online like some places and I’ll be honest, I have to see the fabric that I am buying, merely because my idea of mustard yellow can be a totally different mustard yellow to another. I think other creative types will understand what I’m saying…I hope…or maybe I do need to be committed?
So, I couldn’t just walk into a fabric store, wander around as per my usual and be friendly with the fabrics. AND, some of the fabrics I had been looking for, have been unavailable or sold out since early this year. Poo. Hopefully, maybe next year.
Last minute idea generator
No matter, I could still come up with something yet! Just depends on what hits my recycle bin that inspires my inner elf. Could be tuna cans or perhaps cardboard toilet paper rolls. I see that the ass napkin crusaders are back out in full force yet again this year, and it’s obviously not because it’s mandarin orange season…that’d be wishful thinking…and hoping.
I could crochet or knit, that’s definitely an option, but I think many of my family members are still traumatized from the year my wacky grandmother crocheted all the guys a wiener warmer. I thought it was quite the idea! It even came with a sack warmer…very thoughtful.
Granny was on some pretty fucked up meds that year and I’m quite certain that’s where she drew inspiration from. When I saw those damn things, I knew immediately that Granny had thought very highly of the men in our family, especially her son (my dad). My mom got the smallest one, signifying that Granny just doesn’t love her as much. Yeah, I’m sure you’re picking up what I’m putting down right there.
Apologies make great gifts too
Anyway, I can’t really say much because I too have had many gift giving moments, where I wasn’t sure if I should wear a cute little elf costume and adjust my gift giving according to the recipient’s reaction and offer a huge gift card to somewhere grand to make up for the ordeal. I am a jokester after all, so nobody would know the difference between an attempt at making a nice homemade disaster or a gag gift. I assure you, gag wasn’t my intent at the start.
The largest piece I ever bit off, happened in the earliest of years in Clem’s and my marriage. I’m sure many can attest to the time I speak, where we were couldn’t afford dirt and were broke as shit during the holidays, but by golly we were young and excited about the whole season and spending time with our families. Funny how that changes after how many years. Honestly, it’s turned into quite the game of finding and creating scenarios and excuses, just to avoid seeing some of our favorite relatives.
Ah yes, those were the days. I’ve hit the age and stage where I just can’t fake it ‘til I make it and grin and bear it anymore. Life is too short and precious to entertain the idea of wasting so much time just sitting and staring down the individuals with whom you do not get along. It takes me to many a dark place that I do not wish to contemplate with true intent so to speak.
Crapmanship and ideas that were ahead of their time
Anyway, one of these earliest years from which I refer (in the early 2000’s), I caught a severe case of the homemade gift making and giving bug and boy was it bad. I shudder to think about it now. I mean, my intentions were good, but my craftsmanship was bad. Think crapmanship.
And the absolute worst part of all this insanity, was the fact that I drug Clem all through this moist, shit filled journey and even had him drinking the Kool-Aid. I had him fully convinced that this was an extraordinary idea. Oh my gourd. I’m such an asshole.
That was the year that I…I won’t even say we because that really isn’t fair to Clem in any way, made our entire family, the largest, oversized and god awful ugliest pajama pants known to the entire civilization of humanity. The guys that invented those huge, oversized, blanket-like hoodies are late to the party in my opinion because I had the bloody pants to match over 2 decades ago. Where the hell were you guys back then, huh?
We could’ve made a killing together! A real match made in heaven! Wrapping people into one big blanket suit…who doesn’t want that?
I can only imagine the lawsuits. The static electricity would’ve ended of us before we really would’ve got started. All that fleece in extremely dry Canadian homes in winter…Jeebus Murphy. The concepts surrounding static electricity would’ve been re-written entirely.
Learning about the in-laws
The problem with my great gift making and giving idea was, and well still is, that my sister in law and mother in law don’t like anything oversized, like at all. My mother and I on the other hand, are the complete opposite and she and I love to buy clothes that start at extra-large because we LOVE comfort. Mom and I discovered this anomaly when the 4 of us went shopping together, long after this particular fiasco. I wonder if I will ever be forgiven for this horrible Christmas idea because I did not know then what I know now.
While Mom and I were trying on some potential purchases, we kept popping out of the change rooms like gophers, searching for the biggest sizes we could. On the other hand, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were trying desperately to squish themselves into the smallest sizes possible. It was hilarious! Mom would model her choice (which would be flopping in the wind like a huge ass camping tarp) and we’d oooh and ahh over how comfy we were, wondering aloud if there were any bigger sizes.
My in-laws were quite critical and kept telling us we needed much smaller sizes, often with a look of disgust. My mom and I kept thinking to ourselves how uncomfortable they were going to be in those teeny tiny little sizes that they could barely do up, let alone barely fit into. The sounds coming from the single change room they occupied together (I won’t even get into the crashing and bashing going on against the walls), gave Mom and I a very good idea as to how them pants were fitting.
Life lesson #267
In addition to that, I’ve never seen anyone go clothes shopping with a jug of olive oil, a can of WD40, an extra large tube of KY Jelly, a spray bottle full of water (I think) and ratcheting tie straps (that’s why they carry such large purses methinks). The camera flashes emitting from above and below the change room door were a little odd as well. After some thought and detective work, the flashes confirmed what we both were thinking, number size apparently mattered to them.
So, while they were trying to fit into the smallest size (as we later got a sneak peek at their phones while they were responding to social media messages congratulating them on their squeezing efforts), we were the polar opposite. Mom and I were looking for things we actually felt comfortable in and would wear. I know, my mom and I are practical folks and I openly admit that we are hillbillies and often don’t understand some of the things people do sometimes. I had no idea that this was a thing, so please excuse my misunderstanding…unless it isn’t/wasn’t a thing.
So, vital life lesson # 267, you can’t please everyone. I figured that pajama pants should be comfy and felt that as long as they had a drawstring, we were good to go. Who doesn’t love comfy pj bottoms?
Stitch ripping, need I say more?
For as innocuous as that question sounds, it’s actually a loaded question. As many may know, fabric is hella expensive and sewing…if you were me back then who wasn’t as nifty at sewing, it can be hella expensive time wise too. Just ask me about stitch ripping…all my stitch ripping.
I despise stich ripping. Actually, I hate it. I swear my stitch ripping persona is an angry psychopathic serial killer who has multiple personalities including a Martha type, who has OCD rolled into her anger issues…avoid me when I have to employ the use of this evil tool.
Am I painting a nice clear picture of the ugly that was about to crush my happy jollies way back in the day? Damn was I ever stupid. To think this shit was going to go off without a hitch and that everyone would absolutely love and appreciate these shittily constructed homemade pajama pants, leads me to believe that my brain hadn’t obviously been fully formed yet. Apparently, I was still living amongst the unicorns in Rainbowland.
This is so cringey to write about. I can barely see my computer screen from cringing so hard. Ack.
And in the red corner, the Baycrest
I borrowed my mother’s ancient sewing machine from the very early 80’s (the 1980’s for any smartasses out there) that had major tension issues no one knew how to solve, and I thought (this will bite you so hard in the ass if you ever think this or say this out loud) how hard could it be? If you understand anything about sewing, tension problems are the bane of every sewing person’s existence. That old Baycrest sewing machine was a worthy opponent and a real hard ass. She kicked my ass and broke me down so bad, I cried…yes, I cried.
Everything started out alright (that’s usually how it goes), I purchased a pattern and cut the appropriate amount of patterns out of cheap Christmas wrapping paper (it was the only paper I had, big enough to fit)…so I could reuse it in the future. I’d decided to make the pants big to begin with and then add yet another size up…just in case (and I thought my mom was gonna LOVE these)…and I was off to the races. I was making 11 pairs, so you can imagine how much fabric was necessary in facilitating that size of project.
As for color choice…I’d rather not discuss.
I needed the cheapest fabric I could find and let’s just say, the color selection wasn’t exactly exciting because of that strict price range. I thought the color wouldn’t matter because it was all about the pants. Who wouldn’t love baby shit, vomit/bile yellowish, booger green pajama pants…they were homemade!! Sign me up!
Love is big pants
I’m face palming now. Anyway, fabric cut, everything pinned and now I just had to sew these humongous pants…with love. I believe I was still in college at the time, so time was beginning to be in short supply when I finally got around to this loving act of kindness. I was super excited and thought…
Damn, this ain’t that bad.
Yeah, screwed myself there. I didn’t have a sewing personality yet, but she really began to take form, especially when the old Baycrest decided to play dirty. That old bitch made me swear off of any and all sewing for a very long time, I hated her.
Anyway, when you suck balls at sewing, like I did and you have a mountain of pants to make, sewing loses its fun very quickly. I cannot stress enough just how quickly. Once the fucking seam ripper has to be employed, that joy is sucked from your soul. It even makes a big sucking sound when it happens.
I’ve redefined ugly, several times
Ermagherd, this experience was a real eye opener as to how ugly I could become. I swear that my appearance even morphed to suit the animal I’d transformed into. Warning, this isn’t one of my proudest moments.
The instant I began sewing, that fucking sewing machine decided to bunch up and suck the fabric into itself while sewing a half spool of thread into a ¼ inch area within the first inch that I’d started to sew.
End me now universe.
I ended up having to tediously pick it all apart for an hour with my lovely and very handy stitch ripper. Let’s just say that Clem had a real eye opener as to how ugly I could be. I gave ugly a new meaning.
The hissing, pissing, spitting, snarling beast with the swiveling, pea soup shooting head, solidified that I was not to be disturbed whilst picking apart those petty little annoying stitches. I was u-u-u-gly is all I can say and he now knew what I’d become if the shit hit the fan. Tread lightly dear husband…I love you, but tread lightly! Ha!
Trouble from go
So yeah, I’d just started the first pair and the tension on the twitchy bitchy Baycrest shit the bed entirely. Hardly out of the gates and I already had flat…fuck me. I love sewing, I truly do, but back then I was even more clueless than I am now and I ended up hating sewing with a passion. Wah wah waaahhh….you know the noise…the sad one when things don’t turn out, yeah that’s what I heard.
Needless to say, my jollies hit the fan and I soon found myself Jekyll and Hyde-ing my way through 11 pairs of hideous, oversized pajama pants. Ugh, sometimes I hate this about myself, but mama didn’t raise no quitter…which honestly speaking, sometimes knowing when to quit, is the smartest thing to do. Just saying. I was determined to see it through because I didn’t have time to revert.
I also managed to plaster a fake smile on my face every time I faced Clem, to convince him that this was the most awesome idea ever and that I was having the time of my life while doing all this shitty work. Ugh, I can’t believe I did that. It wasn’t my smartest idea.
Perseverance, perseverance, perseverance
I can’t remember how bloody long it took me to get all that sewing done, but I managed to persevere. I remember that when that Baycrest decided to give me at least one good run of nice stitching here and there, I’d hit that pedal like Mario Andretti and floored that bitch. With zero experience, the panic that propelled me to hit the gas full on left me with the most crooked seams I’d ever seen.
Fuck it. Fuck it and done. I believe this was the very moment that contributed to the creation of the club my mother and I established when it comes to anything in life, The Fuck It and Done Club. We’re the club who stands by it’s done, it’s ugly, but fuck it, it’s done.
I was done. Never again. NEVER.
I remember the evening we lovingly wrapped up my beautifully horrid creations, all crookedly stitched together with uneven pant legs and all, and placed them under the tree that Christmas Eve (no seam lined up properly on the ass either, so I’m not even sure if these would or could be considered pants). I was so bloody happy to be done that I vowed I’d never do anything that stupid ever again. Famous last words…
This is a crime
I knew I didn’t do the greatest job, but Clem was still as excited as ever to watch everyone open their gargantuan, ugly as fuck, pajama pants. I feel like such an asshole. Anyway, as each one of our family members opened their carefully wrapped pants (both of our families celebrated together that year), I watched as the perplexed looks fell over each of their faces. You know your gift is bad when they cannot identify just what the hell you gave them.
Oh boy. There just aren’t enough ways to say sorry. Hence, my practice of apologetic gift card distribution after unwrapping. Clever, but fucking up is expensive.
The fact that I couldn’t even look these people in the eye after they opened their gifts, should say it all. Clem just jumped on in, excited as ever and declared them pants. Ugh, this is bad. I truly do love this man, he has been nothing but supportive and I am so very sorry Clem, this was bad.
You know it’s bad when even your own mother lies to you
It took a second…okay maybe closer to a minute, but everyone did that collective oooohh yeah, thanksssss, they’re really nice, love them. Yeah, everyone loves oversized comfy pajama pants…everyone. I knew I’d made a huge folly when my father-in-law asked if pajama pants were the new style, but he didn’t think they’d be acceptable at work, but thanks.
Needless to say, I’d made many pants but had no willing asses to fill them. The only people who wore theirs, were Clem and Wade. Clem wore his sparingly, and Wade, because he will pretty much wear anything that’d cover his ass…anything, wore his until they fell apart a few years later. He even stole Lea’s pair, thank you Wade, for your support.
I’m quite certain that the rest ended up in donation bins across the country. I bet you want to know if my mother wore hers. Well, even my own mother lied to me.
Yeah, I saw them ugly lilac colored pants balled up and thrown deep into the back of her closet one day. When asked if she’d worn them, she exclaimed that she loved them (fakery) and wore them all the time…when I wasn’t around. Yeah, thanks mom…you traitor. Can’t say I blame her though.
What I’ve learned about homemade gifts
As the years have gone on, I’ve attempted to make many a gift. I’ve gone from quilted items to making painted wood signs and many different things in between. Some work out and others flop. And, you just never know what reaction you’ll get.
Don’t get me wrong, I love learning how to do new things and love working with my hands, but some just aren’t as keen to receiving something homemade. And that’s alright, cause I’m going to make it and give it to them anyway. As Lea and I were laughing one day after Christmas a few years ago, wouldn’t it be interesting to have a donation bin present during our gift opening? I’m kidding, but it may make more sense than hauling it across the country to get it home, only to be placed in the back of a closet.
A Christmas to remember, and many lessons about gift making and giving. If you’re going to make items, know what you’re getting yourself into and, if you don’t think the recipient will know what it is, don’t bother. I can only imagine someone handing out wiener warmers…that’d be funny to watch!
After that Christmas, I’ve always had the upper hand
I’m certain that Clem’s family and my own have already been practicing their surprise faces and fake graciousness while they attempt to guess at just what the hell I’m making them this year. I can already tell by the roundabout questions they’ve been asking that they’re trying to get a clue and formulate some educated guesses. Do I tell them now that I won’t be making anything, or do I continue to enjoy their squeamishness until the day?
Decisions, decisions. I think I’ll enjoy the squeamishness…for now.
As always, I wish you all luck in the coming weeks prior to the holidays, and I hope that you all find exactly what you’re looking for. Happy shopping! For all of you amazing creators of everything handmade, may your beautiful creations come together smoothly and may your workshops be merry!