The holidays are here again. I like seeing trees popping up, storefronts turning frosty, and settling in to crafty-mode with new fabric delights. But I also like to think that the real moment we kick off the season is when pause to sit together with family and friends to be grateful.
For me, the upside of a Thanksgiving tradition otherwise rooted in a deeply flawed and tragic past is that we can honestly and bravely acknowledge that history and actively choose to turn our hearts and minds to being grateful which in turn can make us better humans.
We can choose to make Thanksgiving the moment that kindles our humanity, reminding us that after all there is a season for being grateful, generous, and loving. We can remind ourselves that yes we fail, sometimes in the most horrific of ways, and that we are blessed. Knowing we’re blessed with humility and grace, we also know that we can do better, give more, and love more.
So just before the frenzy of buying and selling and decorations and parties kicks off in earnest, I thought I’d share some of the things I’m most grateful for.
1. The joy of giving quilts
I recently made a quilt for a friend, and I absolutely love the finished product. I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s been sitting in my house for a while now. I keep telling myself that I just want to enjoy it a bit more before I let it go.
I also know that the greatest joy I’ll have in this quilt will be the moment I do give it away. With it will go all the best parts of my creative, inspired self. It will be an expression of my love, and what could be better? How lucky are we when we get to give of ourselves through our craft?
2. Quilting with my mom
Mother daughter relationships aren’t always easy. Sometimes they’re downright impossible for moments at a time or over the course of years. So I am humbled and keenly aware of that I’ve been blessed to share my love of quilting with my mom. I cherish the memories we’ve collected together over the years, going to quilt shows together, taking classes, trying new projects together, getting frustrated then laughing at ourselves, and proudly sharing our finished works. Thank you Mom!
3. The peace of sewing
If you’ve ever had a stressful, very bad, no good day and settled down to a quilting, sewing, knitting, crafty project of any kind to find your mood improving, you know the peace of making things. Not every project is like this (see why I’m grateful for stitch rippers below), but there are those times when the act of making makes me feel better.
In these moments, the world and all its problems take a back seat to something better. With each stitch of the sewing machine, each new seam, each new block my mind quiets the usual clutter and for a moment I’m nothing but me. There is peace.
4. Being surrounded by beauty
I don’t mean nature, although I love being in nature. In this case what I mean when I say I’m grateful for being surrounded by beauty has to do with colors, patterns, and the artistic beauty of quilts and quilting. I’ve spent a lot of years in boring offices, looking at computer screens, constantly under florescent lights. I’ve also spent a lot of time running around too busy to notice what’s around me.
So now that I’m out of the office and quilting, I revel in the fact that I get to take in beauty as a regular part of my day. Being in an environment full of color and inspiration does wonders for the soul.
5. Stitch rippers
I mess up a lot. A lot.
The other day I was working with a slippery fabric that managed to slip two extra folds of itself right up into the seam I was trying to sew. That was fun. I estimate that for every hour I spend sewing, I spend 10 minutes ripping stitches. I’ve also broken needles, cut through finished blocks, and sewn all kinds of wrong sides together. I’ve cried and sworn. And I’m pretty sure the perfect quarter inch seam allowance is a myth.
Still, whenever I come out on the other side of a difficult stretch, and all the stitches have been ripped and replaced I know the joy of overcoming a challenge. Making things can be hard, but the sense of accomplishment is the best boost you could ask for. So thank goodness for the stitch rippers, helping me get there.
So that’s just me. What are you grateful for this season?
PS: Here’s a picture of me and my mom at machine embroidery class at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in 2013.
PPS: Here’s more good reading on why gratitude, generosity, and making things is good for you…
- Why Gratitude is Good (by Jill Suttie & Jason Marsh, the Greater Good Science Center)
- 5 Ways Giving is Good for You (by Robert Emmons, the Greater Good Science Center)
- The Courage to Screw Up: Why DIY is good for you ( by Mark Frauenfelder, Editor-In-Chief of MAKE)