Gifts, please.

for my kiddo
for my kiddo

“You never make any art for me,” my son says.

“A.,” I reply, “yes, I have. You have a picture on your bulletin board over your bed.”

“Let me go see,” he says. He runs to his room. He runs back.

“Not in a frame,” he says. “You never make me art in a frame.”

“Oh,” I say.

I never asked my mother to make art for me–not that I remember. She gave me one painting. For my 21st birthday, one month before she died, she gave me a painting. She’d started the painting for her ex-boyfriend. By the time it was finished, she changed her mind about giving it to him and she gave it to me instead.

Who in your real life appreciates your work? Who would want a gift of something you make? Have you given them any such thing?

15 thoughts on “Gifts, please.

  1. I remember my mom getting mad at me for making an oil painting of a puppy for my dad, who was estranged and didn’t appreciate it (he’s a jerk). She was pissed. I was only about 12 so I didn’t quite get it at that time. She always has appreciated my art, and over the years I’ve given her and my brother a lot of it. Mom’s gotten a couple of paintings out of me over the years and a lot of other hand made things. She (and my friends) appreciate cool handmade things.

    I used to make it a habit to try and make gifts for people. One year it was beaded “mojo” bags. Really just beaded bags that served as necklaces. Quite time consuming! They were definitely appreciated.

    I find it sad that I don’t have the time and my bad hands won’t allow me to do that sort of marathon crafting any longer!

    1. There seems to be that age where kids do special things for that estranged (lame) parent. It is hard for the responsible parent not be be pissed, but understandable for the kid.

      Mojo bags sound very cool. Maybe post a picture of one?

  2. Damn, that rabbit-in-the-moon is GREAT. The kiddo is gonna value that for a looooong time.

    The only work I do which I might offer someone would be verbal work, and I know my family has always appreciated it when I’ve directed that expressly to them. For one four-year period of very low income, rather than getting gifts for them at Christmas I wrote a four-part, mostly (but not exclusively) jokey, mostly (but not entirely) factual memoir of growing up in southern New Jersey in the 1950s-60s. (Each part was devoted to a single season, but what would have been the Winter book was instead just called Christmas. Which was pretty much how a kid then and there regarded the season anyhow: Christmas, and then some other miscellaneous junk afterwards.) I printed up each piece as a little booklet (page size like 4×5) and punched holes in the left margin, so they could all be assembled into little mini-binders (which I also gave them). And I didn’t give them one per person, but one per household — so they had to share.

    Since I did the first one of the booklets for the first Christmas after I left NJ, I think that gave them a little extra kick. (The niece and nephews are all in their 20s now, but the oldest was 11 back then. I’m told that when they get together at the holidays, some of them still go back to re-read one or more of the books — usually the Christmas one.)

    When I started my blog, I thought I’d end up posting and maybe even selling those memoirs online. But that didn’t last; my heart really wasn’t in it. (Fwiw, you can find the little bit I’ve posted there by checking the category called “How It Was.”)

    1. I have only one friend I give my writing to as a present. Something about her… I can’t explain it but she is the one person who I feel okay about that.

      Your stories and booklets sound like good ideas. I just don’t happen to have any family to do that sort of thing for. I know I’ve read bits of “How It Was” over time at your blog. You capture that time well.

      (And the kiddo gave me a great hug when I gave him the picture.)

  3. My son used to take drawings I’d make and play with them like action figures. He’d ruin the edge where he grabbed the paper. My wife went out and got him a set of sheet protectors and slipped the drawings in those and he played with them like that for months.

    My kids are still the only ones who really appreciate my art, but once, my wife decided she wanted a set of pastels to experiment with. I got them for her and took a couple, drew a yellow rose on a piece of scrap, and left it for her (yellow roses are her favorite flowers). She still has the sketch over her desk.

    It’s nice to be appreciated for your artwork because it’s so personal, isn’t it?

    1. That’s a sweet image–kids playing with your art! If your children appreciate what you do, that’s the best (yeah, yeah, publication, money, all that is nice too, but I want the kid happy first).

  4. brinkmanship

    I don’t paint or draw, but I write sometimes. The only person who ever reads what I write is one of my exes. He’s sort of a jerk in that vague way that many exes are, but he’s also an astute reader and provides intelligent criticism. No one in my daily life actually knows that I write, so it’s not something that anyone really appreciates about me. Sometimes I wish things were different. I’m thinking about having someone I sort of know read a story I wrote, but it’s a mess, and I am not sure whether she will be a useful critic or not.

    1. Wow. An ex. I don’t even talk to my exes (and there aren’t that many anyway) but still! That’s brave. And kudos for him if he can give good criticism without making it personal.

      As for this other person–maybe see how she discusses a movie or book you like. Maybe that will give you some idea how she critiques.

  5. I like making foodstuffs for Christmas, usually bourbon balls. One year I bought some cute mason jars with plaid lids and I’d planned to bake some bite-size cookies to fill them with. The cookies didn’t turn out so I spent Christmas morning writing a poem about the fiasco, then hand writing the poem on a dozen pretty cards to put in the jars instead. That scramble to save Christmas turned out to be one of my most popular gifts. Maybe because the last line was something about me putting love in the jar. I think my aunt still has that jar on her shelf.

    I personally love hand made gifts. I’ve never had anybody write something especially for me, but I bet I’d like that, too. And JES is right, your boy will love that bunny forever.

    1. Oh, food. That’s awesome. Now, you see, I don’t cook and everyone I know is on a special diet so…

      One time, ONE TIME, I actually baked chocolate crinkles for the family at Christmas–and no one could eat them because of all the different diets they were on. I won’t let these people read my writing either!

      1. LOL, I wouldn’t either! I figure if I’m on a diet and somebody gives me food as a gift, I’m eating it anyway. Christmas is for sharing. New year’s resolutions are for reversing all that sharing you did over Christmas.

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