Season’s Best Wishes (except to Martha Stewart)

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Uh oh. Another holiday letter.  If you throw this away unread you won’t miss much.   Just  my story about how Martha Stewart screwed up our holidays awhile ago.

We’d had a great year, actually.  Our son Jared (then a teenager) and I didn’t drive each other or Vikki from the house.  My business and Vikki’s psychotherapy practice did well.  We entered the holiday season full of good cheer and ready to rock the Christmas Muzak and roll out the Holiday greetings to our friends and family.

Then Vikki saw Martha Stewart on TV.  Martha showed this neat craft thing that she did by turning picture frames into artistic serving trays.  We decided to make a team project out of it and surprise all of our family members with these specially decorated trays.

The project destroyed our holiday season. We worked horrendous hours and I cursed Martha during every one of them.  The project seemed innocent at first, but then it got complicated.

It began with the requirement to make picture frames from molding.

Have you ever had to measure and cut 45 degree angles on molding? So that the pieces would fit together? Exactly?

I can’t even use a paper cutter to cut evenly.

So I figured I’d automate — great excuse to go power tool shopping. I decided to buy and learn to use an electric compound miter saw.  Good idea, except they come in a pretty big box.  I tweaked my back trying to put the crate into our back seat. So before we even start, I’d crippled myself. The resulting pain pill haze makes remembering the whole experience less embarrassing, but also less clear. Probably just as well.

We live in a town house and there’s no room for a work shop in the garage. It’s pretty full with camping gear and suitcases, bicycles and gardening tools. So I had to cart the saw and the pieces of the project in and out of the garage whenever I wanted to work on it.

I worked outside — in our postage-stamp back yard — between rain showers (did you know that wet sawdust makes good garden compost … and floor cover?). In spite of the awkward working conditions I didn’t get shocked by the electric cord more than a few times, and I didn’t get hurt by the electric saw.

No, it was cutting the glass to fit into the trays that almost required a tourniquet. I’d never cut glass before — who would have thought glass was so fragile? It’s also slippery when you need to cut it with hands that are wet and  numb.

Meanwhile Vikki turned our kitchen table into an art studio with paint and paper collages waiting for assembly or gluing or drying (or sometimes, repair). For weeks.

We had no lives. We didn’t do letters or cards.  We didn’t give parties.  We didn’t even decorate our tree till some friends took pity on us and came over and did it for us.

But when Vikki finished putting her art on my craft, I have to say the trays were beautiful. And we still loved each other.

Some of our relatives have the trays hanging on their walls as art. When I see them my back gives me a twinge, and I feel a little swell of pride. And Vikki still watches Martha Stewart, but with a cautious eye.

So in case you’re reading this, Martha, we don’t really blame you for our botched holiday; we DO wish you a Merry Christmas. I just have no business working on a crafts project. Vikki hasn’t made the same mistake since.

In life’s constant stream of experience we can usually find nuggets of meaning and humor, love and joy. It was true for us, and we pray that the year was, on balance, a blessing for you.

Of our many blessings, we are particularly grateful for the wonderful people that touch our lives. Your existence is a gift to us, and to many others around you. Take good care of yourselves and enjoy each other and the Holidays, and have a wondrous New Year.

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