Saturday, December 23, 2006

The way things come together

Ever since I started commuting 4 hours a day [oh, the joys], I've been looking for little projects to take with me on the train: portable, requiring few supplies. Sometimes I prep everything a little bit in advance. Admittedly, there are days where I just stare out the window and think, or make faces at the adorable little baby sitting in the row in front of me.

Potholders! These inadvertently came out with a little bit of a Christmas theme to them, and even though they're a little primitive-looking, I love them nonetheless. The squares are from over a decade ago; each border a recently thrifted find. Every little bit of these things are handstitched, and imperfect though the stitches may be, I love them nonetheless.

I love how the backings are actually old PJ pants I had for years, my special snowman pair. I love that I can recycle a sheet from a thrift shop, the way the insulation is an old towel and scraps of leftover batting. But most of all, I like looking at the nine-square patchworks and thinking about the 12 year old that somehow thought it would be a good idea to handstitch an entire quilt out of 2 inch squares.

Christmas is certainly here, just around the corner for all those lying in eager anticipation. The holidays are a low-key affair this year. We make less of a deal out of presents each year, and that's just fine in our family. The other day I opened the newspaper to see an article about stores pushing $148 handbags and $376 velvet jackets as last-minute presents. Since when did presents become a 3 digit affair?

It saddens me that this is what the holiday has come to. Each year I can regularly anticipate reading lots and lots of economic worries that the "American consumer won't pull through this year," "our economy is experiencing flat rates of growth unless people spend at the very last minute," and thanks to a bevy of sales, they usually do. I'd rather spend the time frantically perusing for friends, actually spending time with those friends, because for me, the special warmth of a human connection or a shared memory is worth much more than any material representation of friendship.

This year I have a lot to be grateful for. I am on the same side of the world as most of my friends and family. I am thankful to have found a job in an amazing organization doing things that I absolutely love and that are very meaningful and worthwhile, and working with incredibly friendly people. It never ceases to amaze me how welcoming Asians are -- whole-heartedly and truly welcoming, as though inviting you in as one of their family. I am grateful for beauty in this world, inspiration. I am happy that I have time to spend with really good friends, that we continue to care for one another through all the changes that life has brought us. The world is a sad place and a painful place, but it is also very beautiful and I am thankful to be where I am, with a roof over my head and loved ones to wake up to in the morning. You may not be able to pick the place and time that you live in, but I try to make the best of the situation at hand, and for those efforts, I am grateful.

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