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Wishes fulfilled: Olive and Archie

4 Feb

There are many who talk about the Laws of Attraction. A metaphysical construct that suggests that once you set your full attention on something, that something is drawn to you. It is this concept that has sold millions of copies of The Secret and has renewed followers’ faith in The Church of Oprah. I’m not dismissing the possibility that such laws exist, or ignoring the fact that I haven’t read or investigated this spiritual path for myself,  merely giving a terse synopsis of what some might say happened to me on Christmas Day 2007.

Many months ago, when I was pregnant and spending hours each day looking at crib bumper sets I could never afford and sketching out a design in Photoshop for a junky computer room that I intended to become a nursery, I followed a link to Hillary Lang’s site, Wee wonderfuls and saw the pictures of the rooms she designed for her two children. They were classy rooms with timeless details and were exactly the kind of rooms I would have liked to design if I had that magic touch that some seem to have of always finding that perfect lost artifact in the thrift store bin…and if I knew how to sew.

Not knowing how to sew is somewhat torture of you follow Hillary’s blog, which I do (just as a I follow several other crafting blogs now, because I find them inspiring, even though I am now more of a buy something handmade on Etsy, instead of making it myself). Although she has a preschooler and an infant just a few week solder than my own, she manages to make gum drop Christmas quilts, and baby smocks, and handmade barrettes, and create embroidery patterns, while I struggle to get a single Thank You note written, months after the occasion has passed.

It had been a particular torture to me, because of the Make-A-Long Story. Like many parents these days, I am weary of plastic or lead-painted toys from over-seas manufacturers. I am also leery of the cradle-to-grave marketing and being the first driver of my child’s need for more and more stuff. There will be plenty of forces coming that will make her feel less-than for not having more-of, I’m not trying to be one of those forces (wiser parents than me know I will eventually fail at this). So, with all the angst of my generation and a deep love of puns, I immediately fell in love with the dolls features in the Make-A-Long Story. Moreover, I was completely astounded that the creator of the design made for sale the patterns for the dolls as well as their accessories.

The only problem: I didn’t sew.

But, my beloved friend, Lynne, does. She had followed the link to the kids’ rooms from my tumblr page and found several goodies that met super-crafty liking. She mentioned her love of the Make-A-Long Story to me in a passing conversation, and I agreed in a isn’t-it-so-cool-that-people-still-make-handmade-dolls sort of way. Months passed, holidays neared and I made a series of wish list posts that represented some of the things that I would be delighted to receive should someone feel fit to give it to me. Though I have adored many of the handmade things I have run into on craft sites, it never would have occurred to me to ask for any of it, because it seems so ostentatious to ask someone to make something for you. Believing that someone should perhaps spend money on me is hard enough; demanding their time, skill, and physical exertion is over the top.

So, imagine my surprise when tucked inside the box that Lynne sent to Lyra for Christmas were these two sweet friends:

olive and archie dollsolive and archie dolls in level 3 tree

Lynne wrote a detailed post after the holidays explaining her choices in fabrics, felts, etc. I loved learning about the process, as much as I love having these dolls in my home, watching Lyra interact with them, and knowing they will be long-running characters in the stories of her imagination. Even if they fall apart or disappear some day, they will still hold their place in her memories and become one of perhaps many things that define her childhood. That a friend whom I love so dearly could give this kind of gift to my child feels me with so much joy and gratitude, that joy and gratitude seem like trite and small terms to express how I feel about receiving these gifts.

This is just one of two gifts that I received for Christmas that filled me with immeasurable joy (the other one will require a separate post). I’m grateful for any gift I receive. I don’t feel entitled to receiving things, in fact I tend to be the opposite. But this Christmas surprised me. I believe that opening myself up to the possibility of receiving, to the possibility that I am worthy of receiving, allowed me to receive more than I was willing to ask for. Some might call it the power of intention. I don’t know what I call it. I know only that I am open to the possibility of being worthy. And that with the self worth may come an ounce, or even an immeasurable quantity, of that one little word: joy.

By the way, today is Lynne’s birthday. So if you think Archie and Olive are as adorable, sweet, and thoughtful as I do, please make her feel all shy and bashful by leaving her a little comment on her blog and letting her know.

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Wish List: November 23, 2007

23 Nov

In honor of the Black Friday shopping orgy that everyone else will be participating in today, I am going to post three Wish List items.

But first, speaking of “Black Friday”….

I know that it’s called that because it’s the day that most retailers go from being in the red all year to finally turning a profit and they are therefore “in the black,” but the name makes me think that it’s some new holiday celebrating black folks that I only commemorate by hiding in my house and making many, many plated of reheated turkey and dressing. My parents, on the other hand (who were raised in Mississippi and Chicago—in fact Jesse Jackson was preacher at my mom’s church and there are pictures of him and Dr. king in my mom’s senior yearbook—lived through segregation and Jim Crow and Civil Rights marches and Black Panthers handing out leaflets on the corner, and are therefore much Blacker than I am), they celebrate by getting up at 4:30 in the morning and shopping until somewhere around noon, adding a new singing and dancing light-up Santa to their collection every year.

One year I tried to celebrate my people’s holiday—and by “my people,” I’m not only referring to my fine, black ancestors, but to my white one’s as well; I’m speaking of Americans as whole, for no day represents us better than one where we willingly participate in an orgy of shopping and debt building, immediately following a 3000 calorie feast, in the name of holy capitalism and strengthening the economy ah men. Garrett and I got up with my parents, wet to Kmart, and Walmart, and every other disturbingly crowded big box and department store, only to find that even at six in the morning, “all the god stuff” was gone. The only thing left on the shelves was stuff that would be on sale all of the following week.

Wait…and you get up at 4:30 in the morning for what reason? To come buy stuff that you could buy, oh, any time during the next week?! This stuff doesn’t compute in my mind. Neither does going to malls in the first place. Why deal with crowds, when you have the comfort of the internet and QVC at your disposal?

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming. You can find out why I am writing a Wish List here. Continue reading

Wish List: November 21, 2007

21 Nov

Item Two: Opera Tickets

Aida San Diego Opera poster

(Explanation for this post, here).

When I was in high school I was lucky enough to participate in an awesome program put on by the San Diego Opera. For $15 a show, K-12 students could attend the dress rehearsal performances of the entire season of opera. Initially, I bought tickets because I was an intellectual-snobby-hipster and I thought there was something cool and ironic about going to watch people sing in languages I didn’t understand. Unexpectedly, I fell head-over-heels in love with it. To this day, you can’t get me to sit through most musicals, but I have long dreamt of seeing another opera. At $100+ per ticket, it will probably remain a fantasy for some time to come. But it has been almost fifteen years since I saw my last performance. I would very much like to go, again.