Home(made) for the Holidays
I always hate those articles that urge you to make your holiday gifts this year. For all the extra gifts you need–for the ChemLawn guy, say, or the UPS delivery person–why not make gingered violets, or better yet, home-made candy canes?
What self-respecting person wouldn’t want to receive these, and what self-flagellating person wouldn’t go on a bender and actually make them? It means so much more, it’ll save you money. You’ll be the hit of the party!
When my kids were young and needed constant entertainment I had the brilliant idea to follow Martha Stewart’s sage (the adjective, not the herb) advice and create our very own cranberry wreath: an inspired mother-children bonding project that was bound to keep us all enthralled for hours.
Usually leery of Martha’s advice, I knew this project would be a breeze. I mean, how hard could it be to jab cranberries into Styrofoam?
I made an extra trip to the store, three small kids in tow, to buy our supplies; figured we’d make two wreaths, since we’d be having so much fun. So I bought eight bags of berries, and a few boxes of toothpicks (all I could find were the colored plastic ones, but they’d do in a pinch).
Add the wreaths, which cost a couple of bucks–not to mention a few gray hairs caused by dragging the kids to the craft store for one measly thing, for which I had to wait in an endless line, because, being the holiday season, every fool decided they too had a hidden craft gene in them –and we were good to go.
Soon, we’d have a gorgeous crimson festive decorator showpiece to hang from our front door, made by the creative little hands of my babies, all for under thirty bucks!
Back home, I ambitiously invited my nephews to join in the fun. So our craft team consisted of five kids aged five and under.
If my memory serves correctly, this project held these kids’ interest for, oh, say, three minutes and twelve seconds. For the subsequent hour that ensued, I cajoled, implored then forced the kids to persist. I’d be damned if my financial investment and good intentions were gonna be lost without a fight. Plus, I had no alternative activity with which to divert their attention.
Apart from the usual arguing over who got what cranberry and the best colored toothpicks, I had to contend with five out of control children dropping a myriad of deadly toothpicks all over the floor for the toddlers in the crowd to then pick up and stuff into a variety of orifices.
The floor-bound cranberries, which were most of them, were eaten by my mooch of a dog, who ended up throwing them back up in a seasonally brilliant vermilion color. Crushed berries stained my porous teak table.
By project’s end–which was when the oldest of the group (the others having given up much earlier and taken to running amok in my house) could no longer bear the pain of the pointy sticks in their fingertips–I was left with two pathetic Styrofoam rings, smashed cranberries jabbed randomly across their topography.
Do you know how many millions of cranberries it must take to cover a foam wreath? And how much resistance the foam puts up to any attempt to puncture its tough exterior wall?
What I had before me were vast expanses of white foam with vague hints of holiday red. Definitely not meant to grace my front door.
Trying to salvage something from this failed venture, I decided to hang the wreaths from a tree; at least the wintering birds would enjoy the berries.
I soon learned that while no local birds gave a hoot about cranberries, strong winds and foul weather would do wonders to facilitate the dropping of hundreds of non-biodegradable toothpicks, which littered my yard mockingly. All year long, those colored little sticks strewn all over my front lawn served as a reminder of my folly.
The next year, I took my money from the craft budget, picked up a pizza, rented a movie for the kids, and ordered all those extra gifts by phone. I learned my lesson, the hard way.