Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)
Summer didn’t arrive today as expected. Her breeder had a dog go into early labor so had to stay home and be midwife instead of taking our puppy to the airport. She hopes to be able to ship her on Thursday. We were terribly disappointed, but it gave me another evening to work on Christmas presents. I had been concerned that I would be so busy playing with puppy that I would neglect my crafting which needs to be done pretty soon. I am entered in an art show this Friday and need to finish my Christmas gifts so I can decide what I will keep to give and what I will put in the show to sell. My kiln is still broken so I am felting up a storm. Or rather felting up a mess of scarfs. Bark scarves to be exact. Or if you want to get technical, mokume shibori felted scarves. This is a Japanese design that uses stitching and dye to make a felted scarf look wood grain. It is also called, a bark scarf because the fabric becomes textured like tree bark. I made one scarf at the Creative Felt gathering in Michigan and loved the final product, but it is a labor intensive process. One scarf takes four and a half hours to make. A half hour to felt, two forty five minute dye baths, two hours of stitching and a half hour of removing the stitches. With thirteen women in my family, that is a lot of time invested into gifts. It seemed like a good idea when I was buying the felt and dye, but, now I know why they sell for $125 each in the galleries. My aching back, cut hands and needle poked fingers are the proof. I wasn’t too happy with the initial product. I was making the scarves exactly like I had been taught, bright jewel tone for the first layer and black for the second. The resulting colors did not appeal to me. So, I began experimenting with my own colors and am happier with the designs. Still, as I felted, stitched and dyed, I got more and more aggravated. I kept thinking that my family will never appreciate the time that it is taking to make each one of these scarves. Not only would they never imagine how much work is in them, they likely would not buy one for $125 if they saw them in the store. I began to think about taking three scarves to the Art Center and selling them for $125 each. The money raised could go towards buying gift cards. But, I reminded myself that while I can’t control what my family will think of their gift, I can control my attitude. I can’t make them grateful, but I can have a generous giving spirit. There are a lot of things in life that I do as an employee, as a mom, as a friend, as a volunteer that go unnoticed by most. But there is One who sees all and looks beyond my actions to my heart. I have a choice to make. I can feel irritated and put upon or I can be excited about the possibilities as this investment of my time expresses love to my family. What about you? Are you a cheerful or begrudging giver?