When Dennis and I were first together, both working for a "non profit" theatre company, we didn't have a lot of disposable income. When occasions arose that required a special gift I often found myself making something, usually sewn...quilts were my "go to" at the time, as I could often incorporate scraps from previous projects to cut down the cost. People always seemed appreciative, and pleased...I counted myself lucky that I had such polite, caring friends who would never think of pointing out that my offering was homemade.
I remember one birthday party in particular, I was so proud...I had recently "sold out" as a theatrical costume designer and was making big bucks (for me) designing mass produced costumes for dance. This time, my present was store bought! I was so excited when my offering was the next to be unwrapped, as I LOVE giving gifts.
The birthday boy said "I think I know what this is" as he ecstatically tore into the paper, his excitement stilling as he revealed the beautiful, and expensive, designer shirt I had purchased. His head shot up, looking for me...we made eye contact and I prepared to receive the well deserved accolades that every serial gift giver craves. My sweet, happy go lucky friend looked at me and said "Where is my f#cking quilt?"..."whaaaa?" Was my eloquent response. "I've been waiting 2 years for a quilt, everyone else has a handmade quilt, take this back and make me my f#cking quilt!"
Now, in all fairness, cocktails had been flowing rather freely, and it was his party, so he could "cry if he wanted to", as I was left to ponder the perceived value of multiple years of homemade/handmade gift giving.
Had I been wrong? Were the recipients not just being polite? This was unimaginable...had Dennis actually been right? Shocking, I know, but as my wise friend Tracy says "even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while". A hard, honest, introspective look at why I give, and what, if anything, I expect to get out of it appeared to be required. Live and learn...hmmm.
Fast forward to a year ago, as I shyly gave a painting to a friend...a painting that I had finished two months prior but couldn't get up the courage to actually give. I ended up leaving it in a mutual friend's hallway during a cocktail party, and telling the recipient it was there..."you can take it if you want...or just leave it, and I'll do something with it...no worries..."
I know, kinda pathetic, but I am a work in progress. It's just really weird giving someone something you've made which says "by the way, this is what I think you look like". Sigh...I'm trying to get better at it.
And then yesterday...
A combined birthday party for my niece Emma, my bonus niece Sydney (known by all who love her as Bean), and Bean's mom Kelly. I refer to Kelly as my "Sister-in-law, Sister-in-law"...Kelly was the recipient of a "homemade gift". This time the "quilt" was actually a painting developed from one of her photographs of Sydney, that I call "Bean on the Fence".
Kelly's delighted face was what every gift giver wants to see...but, as it turns out, the reaction of 4 year old Quinn, running up to kiss the face on canvas, as he recognizes his big sister, is all the praise this artist needs, and apparently one of the reasons I like to give handmade items.