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This Christmas, somebody else can deck the halls

December 17, 2005|By Lyn Widmyer

After almost two decades, I am planning a craft-free holiday season.

Gone are the books on how to make reindeer from clothespins and snowman ornaments from stale popcorn. I have pitched my glue gun, trashed dozens of half empty fabric paint containers and bid farewell to an impressive collection of iron-on holiday stencils.

These were the staples of Christmas Past. When the kids were young, I made holiday gifts for their teachers, Sunday school instructors and 4-H club leaders. At first, I insisted my children help. I wanted to be just like those pictures in magazines of mothers and children blissfully crafting beautiful projects together. Unfortunately, my family crafting sessions usually ended with spilled paint, glitter tracked throughout the house and me yelling, "No one leaves until every single one of these stupid clothes pin reindeer has a hat and a scarf!"

I soon discovered I could complete holiday projects faster without the annoying presence of my children. This saved a lot of time and fostered a gentler, kinder holiday season. I simply ordered my kids to go watch television and did it all myself. No more paint drippings or piles of glitter underfoot. Thankfully, I am so bad at crafts that teachers and other gift recipients automatically assumed my children made them. Having a few glasses of wine while painting Christmas ornaments certainly helped the primitive motif.

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Now that my children are older, I am swearing off crafts forever: No more paint, paste, felt, brushes, stencils, yarn, wooden dowels, beads, construction paper, poster board, craft knives, popsicle sticks or clay. Into the trash go all those Christmas cards I was going to tastefully decoupage onto wooden trays (what was I thinking??)

According to the Craft and Hobby Association, annual retail sales in the craft industry have topped $30 billion and 75 percent of households across America contain at least one member who has crafted. I do not think the industry will miss me.

There will be plenty of people to take my place. A whole new generation is being introduced to crafts at places like Shepherdstown Day Care Center. The center charges parents on a sliding fee scale so it is affordable to families of all income levels. There are 60 kids enrolled but when a new addition is completed in April 2006, capacity will increase to 90.

The children go through a lot of glitter and glue at this time of year, making everything from snowman refrigerator magnets to holiday cards for residents of Canterbury Nursing Home.

I asked Melissa Holman, who teaches 4- and 5-year-olds, what types of holiday crafts are on the agenda this year. Melissa enthusiastically told me about baby food jars laden with cinnamon, cloves and nutmegs and holiday Christmas wreaths fashioned from empty paper towel rolls cut into segments and linked together by bright ribbon and angel picture frames with the kid's handprints for wings and pipe cleaners for haloes.

I could tell from the excitement in her voice that Melissa actually LIKES doing crafts with children.

I figure I will save about $150 next year by giving up my craft habit. To commemorate the end of my involvement in gluing and pasting, I am going to donate that amount to Shepherdstown Day Care center.

Our weary world can always use more angels with hand shaped wings and pipe cleaner halos.

Lyn Widmyer is a West Virginia resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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