Radical Imperfection: Holiday Edition

I have just come from the kitchen, where I might–might–have had a minor breakdown, mostly revolving around the theme, “…and so that, kids, is how your Auntie BW came to ruin Christmas FOREVER”.

I should start at the beginning of this story.

Once upon a time, I joined Pinterest and found a million billion kazillion recipes, gardening tips, makeup tutorials (for all the good those did me), and craft project ideas. I opted out of anything involving “upcycling” an old t-shirt (pro tip: nobody believes that the floppy cotton rosette you sewed onto the shoulder of your $5 megamart shirt means that it’s a designer piece that costs hundreds of dollars. Just sayin’), and I opted out of making my own cosmetics from household items, but I found this nifty tutorial for making Binder Barbie Dollhouses, and couldn’t resist.

…Ok, to be honest, I didn’t try very hard to resist. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the scrapbook supplies aisle.

So a few weeks ago, I hit some sales and gathered scrapbooking paper in our two older nieces’ favorite colors, and picked up some stickers that reflected their favorite activities–soccer and art for Bean, martial arts and being a princess for the Warrior Princess. And while we had some binders in a box in the garage, I needed a few more, so I grabbed those too.

Then I came home and set to crafting, using the tutorial as a jumping-off place: Mod Podge scrapbook papers to the interior of the binders for “wallpaper”, then embellish as desired. And since I’m sort of a “go big or go home” person, I decided to personalize them.

Here's Bean's classroom set, for instance. Notice that she's "Student of the Week". And if we zoom in on the "bulletin board"....

Here’s Bean’s Classroom set, for instance. Notice that she’s “Student of the Week”. And if we zoom in on the “bulletin board”….

...we find that the art displayed are all shrunk-down printouts of art she's made (which her school and her Mommy very helpfully posted online).

…we find that the art displayed there are all shrunk-down printouts of art she’s made (which her school and her Mommy very helpfully posted online).

For the Warrior Princess's Karate Studio set, I included her school's motto (in the frame there), and matched the "wallpaper" to the color of the school's walls (again, thanks to her parents for posting pictures on Facebook. Bwahaha!)

For the Warrior Princess’s Karate Studio set, I included her school’s motto (in the frame there), and matched the “wallpaper” to the color of the school’s walls (again, thanks to her parents for posting pictures on Facebook. Bwahaha!)

And if I take a second and step back and think about all of this–the research, the materials-gathering, the 90-minutes-to-4-hours each binder took (the kitchen sets were the longest, but they include refrigerators that open and close and are fully stocked–Warrior Princess’s fridge is even mostly Paleo, since her family has adopted that eating plan–plus decorated with “magnets” holding up the kids’ art, pictures, and achievements)–I start feeling pretty cute about it all. I mean, really, they’re kinda adorable. And very thoughtful, if I do say so myself.

But today I went to the kitchen–I’d taken over the dining table as Crafts Central–and opened one of the binders, and the paper pulled away from the binder. A bit of superglue later, and that seemed to be solved. And then I went back to refill my coffee, and checked another binder, and two of the stickers fell out. And that’s when I wigged out.

In my head, see, this was going to be perfect and lovely. I knew academically and objectively that that wasn’t the case–these are made by hand from binders and paper, fer cryin’ out loud, so imperfections are inevitable–but I was sure, thanks to ’80s movies and encouraging covers of crafting magazines, that I Could Absolutely Do This and the Power of Love Would Make It All Beautiful.

For the record, the Power of Love works on a subjective level.

So I stood for a moment with the binder in my hands and the stickers on the table, and I looked at my handiwork, and I saw the rough edges, and I saw the little spot where the paper had bubbled during the decoupaging process, and I saw the little marker smear, and I noticed that my lettering wasn’t precise and even and perfectly straight, and I just flipped all the way out. I’d ruined it, I reckoned; I’d ruined it all, because none of the binders is perfect, and everyone will notice that they’re not perfect, and Santa and Baby Jesus and Martha Stewart will be profoundly ashamed of me, and the kids will hate me forever because I ruined Christmas, and…

…And that’s when the light bulb came on. I’d had this fleeting thought before, but this time it reared up and punched me in the head: Martha Stewart will not be attending our Christmas get-together this year.

Hang on just a second…

/checks email

/checks voicemail

Nope, no messages from President Obama asking me to consider letting him take these as representative pieces of American art and culture, to be presented to the children of foreign heads-of-state.

In other words, you know who I have to impress with these? A five-year-old. On Christmas morning.

And then the following week, when we return from visiting Moon’s family and do Christmas with my family, I’ll be using the second set to impress a seven-year-old…with bonus Christmas presents after Christmas is technically over.

Frankly, it’s almost impossible for me to fail with that setup. These kids are getting highly personalized portable dollhouses with their own names and pictures and artwork all over ’em. The people who are most likely to notice the flaws are either a) grownups who won’t even be attending the get-togethers in the first place, or b) family members, who are by definition required to forgive me.

So maybe I can cut myself a little slack. Maybe I can decide that this is a good chance to re-embrace my radical imperfection, and to start writing a little mental speech about how our flaws are what make us beautiful, just in case either of the nieces calls me on that little glue smear I couldn’t quite rub out. Maybe I can allow myself yet again to be human, to be accessible, to be a really good example of someone who made a really good effort and didn’t really make it to the mountaintop but people really loved her anyway.

And failing all of that, maybe I can distract ’em with the Barbies that they’re also getting.



(p.s.–if you ever find yourself in the midst of a Pinterest-related breakdown because your project didn’t entirely live up to the pictures helpfully provided online, allow me to recommend Pinterest Fail, a hilarious user-submitted collection of people who totally share your pain.)


1 Comment

Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

One response to “Radical Imperfection: Holiday Edition

  1. I love this! Thanks for the reminder my friend.

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