Does anyone have those hobbies, sayings, ways of doing things that are just part of your family? As in, ‘It’s a Jones’ thing’ or something of the like.
For me, my mom’s side of the family is a crafty and creative bunch. Along with being avid readers, they also writers, photographers, drawers, painters, knitters, crocheters, and cross stitchers among them. As I type this, I’m wondering how we’re related, but rest assured, I do have my own ways of being creative. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve admired my mom’s patience and knack for fine motor skills. Those genes definitely did not make their way to me. Anything involving fine motor skills is typically a no-go for me. Partially because of my lack of natural ability, but mostly because of my lack of patience to improve those abilities.
However, I’m in the middle of a room revamp and got this idea to make some cross stitch hoops to represent the seasons via fruits and veggies. In Southern California, sometimes we need a reminder that seasons actually exist, but I digress. I’ve watched my mom spend large portions of her time fully focused on a cross stitch project and willingly rip out a section if the color wasn’t quite right or something wasn’t up to par. I figured, a dozen hoop designs should be a breeze.
The day came when I asked her to help me get my first pattern, an apple, set up and teach me what the hell I was actually supposed to be doing. She cut a square of fabric, folded it in half one way and then the other, used some thread to mark the creases to have an idea of where center was, helped me find the colors the pattern called for, showed me how to get started, and I was on my way!
Turns out, cross stitching is a little more tedious than I had thought. I had envisioned myself finishing a pattern in a day or two. HA! Oh, big time ha. It is not a hobby for the impatient, let me tell you. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with some serious determination that I can call upon when a situation really needs it. This situation was going to need it…but not quite yet. After a few months of putting my apple on the back burner, I realized these dozen hoops would never get finished unless I made a serious effort to at least finish one. I buckled down as best I could and proudly finished my first ever cross stitch.
Now, a few months later, I’m even prouder to say that I’ve finished five more. That’s right, only six to go until mission accomplished and I’ll be singing Dora the Explorer’s “We Did It” song.
Here’s the real thing, though. Many of us in my generation haven’t taken the time to learn these skills and several others from our parents. Out of my many cousins, only one is carrying on the tradition of crafts that involve pointy metal objects and some sort of fiber to create something beautiful and personal. How long until babies of future generations in my family won’t have a blanket or baby announcement that they can proudly say was made by one of their relatives?
I know I don’t want it to end on my watch.
Lord knows the apron I sewed years ago with my mom’s help might be the only thing I ever sew, but I did it. Likewise, I might not be proficient at crocheting, but I’m confident that the little knowledge I learned from my mom and aunt could be applied to make a probably fairly wonky baby blanket, if a situation called for it. Similarly, my stitches may not lie as beautifully as my mom’s when it comes to the cross stitches I do, but I know how to do it and I learned from her. That’s what’s important.
My message to anyone reading this is to take the opportunity to learn what you can from previous generations. If there’s a recipe someone in your family makes, don’t just enjoy it when it’s placed in front of you ready to eat. Take the time to learn how to prepare it. If there’s a craft that your family partakes in, like crocheting, woodworking, fly tying, etc, learn about it and how to do it. Let us not forget about other skills and techniques either, like throwing a football properly, changing the oil in a car, mowing the lawn, painting a room, and all other related areas. It’s up to us to carry it on, but let’s do our best to learn it from the people around us while we have the chance rather than Google or YouTube.