I’m bitter because I suck at arts and crafts. I don’t understand, ever since I was placed in that special program for gifted and creative children in the fourth grade, I always considered myself above-average in the artistically talented category. I never nursed this putative talent or felt like I had time to exhibit it — it was always school, career, babies, blah, blah, blah. Those other moms who could create masterpieces out of baked goods or sew intricate Halloween costumes for their kids had to be stay-at-home moms who had way more time than I did. As for those working moms who still managed to write customized thank-you notes after every perfectly planned event hosted at their gorgeously decorated homes, well, screw those moms too. I told myself I could be like that if I really wanted to, if I tried.
Now that I’m on sabbatical and no longer have work as an excuse, I find that I need to come to terms with my ineptitude for anything requiring imagination or creative skill. Or hand-eye coordination. I can’t even follow a step-by-step YouTube tutorial on how to fold a simple origami Christmas ornament. (Even though I paused the video. Frequently.)
This year is the first year that we’ve ever had a real Christmas tree and I had romantic notions and illusions of grandeur about spending hour upon delightful hour making Christmas ornaments and decorations with my children. Our Parisian apartment has every kind of art supply you can imagine: paint, markers, crayons, colored pencils, tissue paper, construction paper, postcards (including Christmas-themed ones), doilies, multi-colored plastic strings, twine, glue, tape, etc., not to mention a mountain of popsicle sticks, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, and cardboard egg cartons that we’ve accumulated. I piled a stack of supplies and materials on our small dining table and imagined that they would soon be transformed into glorious homemade ornaments.
No matter how long I stared at the pile of art supplies, I could not for the life of me figure out what to do with them. I turned to Google in the hope of finding a cure for my creative mental block. All it did was taunt me with images of exquisite crafts devised by Pinterest goddesses whose artistry far exceeded mine. After a few unsuccessful origami tutorials, I had to resort to using brute force by cutting, butchering, and taping postcards into the shapes I wanted. Why make 18,000 intricate folds to achieve the shape of a box when you can just tape a bunch of squares together? It’s like, why bother making the effort to be sweet and polite to your husband when you can just yell at him to make him do what you want, amirite ladies?
Not only am I devoid of artistic ability, my coordination and fine motor skills are evidently sub-par, and my kids’ are worse than mine, so our family craft time didn’t exactly turn out the way I had envisioned. They would make a mess for a little while, get bored, and then leave me to my own devices. At one point I got so frustrated that I crumpled up the tissue paper I had been working with, rolled it into a ball and taped some string on it. It’s hanging on our tree, and it’s by no means the worst-looking ornament on there.