Friday, November 18, 2011

The Craftsy Aunt

By now, the news has been delivered and I can see the moment in my mind's eye. The scene is my brother's kitchen in Vermont, bright, spacious, a little cluttered but only because my sister-in-law is a culinary maven. I have never been to their home, but I imagine the kitchen is openly connected to a family room, full of comfy cushy chairs that match. They have a nice size television, a fabulous stereo, and probably several video games strewn about the floor.

This is all foreign to some one like me and so my mental picture has been colored by visits to homes of my children's friends. I choose to describe my furniture as "eclectic" - meaning it is old and doesn't match. Our home entertainment is "simplified" - SpongeBob DVDs, teasing the cat, and board games. Our clutter is "junk" – crap my kids bring home from school that I KNOW I will need some day.

My sister-in-law gives the news to my 16 year old niece, who isn't quite sure how to react. The eye roll? A shout of glee? She chooses cautious optimism; she's a good and thoughtful girl. She is smart, logical, and has the world at her feet. She takes the "wait and see" attitude.

"Your Aunt Lisa is crocheting a gift for your birthday."

No other words churn such complex and conflicting feelings in a kid. Maybe she would score with a cool hat, a nifty scarf, some trendy fingerless gloves? Or…..what if Aunt Lisa missed the memo on making yarn art cool? There is the chance she could end up with matching cozies for her bathroom's toilet seat, Kleenex box, and extra roll of toilet paper. Oh, why does she have to have a "craftsy" aunt anyway? There are just some adults who don't know the value of a gift card!

I never had a Craftsy Aunt and now know that this is the missing element of my life that has lead to all my troubles. A more traditional school of thought would attribute my broken marriage, chronic financial woes, and general bitterness to some deep seeded childhood event, chemical imbalance, or that blow to the head when I was 12. I know better. If only I had a Craftsy Aunt to make me ridiculously impractical and horrifically unattractive birthday and Christmas gifts as a child, I would not need to rely on visits to my kids' friends' homes for a peek into that idyllic home in Vermont – I would be living there.

And so after years of searching, I now know my mission in life is to realign our universal balance by filling the role of the Craftsy Aunt. When I DO remember a birthday (because Craftsy Aunts are often scatter brained and forgetful), my weapons of choice will be crochet hook, hot glue gun, and googly eyes. It is a thankless job, but I believe in grassroots social change. With my bedazzled baseball cap, ugly Christmas sweater, and carpel tunnel brace, I crochet on for all those nieces and nephews. Such sacrifice and selflessness will only be known years from now, when those nieces and nephews look about them and realize all they owe to that Craftsy Aunt Lisa.