Striving for Consistency

23 Aug

When I was younger I was a dabbler. I seemed to possess the inability to stick with my interests. I’ve never liked this quality about myself. It made it hard to feel like I had a talent or was good at something, which sounds awfully pathetic when I write it out like that. I don’t think that’s true now, of course. I realize my self worth is not tied to a sport or musical instrument or GPA. Thank goodness for growing up. But my New Year’s Resolution just happened to address this very thing. What I wanted out of this year was consistency — finish what I start and practice the things I enjoy so that I see improvement.

And whether you like it or not, what you choose to be consistent about really defines who you are to other people. Can people depend on you? What do people ask your advice about? How do they remember you? What makes you special in their eyes?

I could write a list of the people in my life and what they do consistently that matters so much to me, but right now I just want to talk about one. My aunt. You can call her “E,” we do.

In a blue square GAP box, in carefully sealed ziploc bags are 20 handmade Christmas ornaments. For years, my sisters and cousins and I received a new ornament each Christmas Day. Even back then we realized what a treasure they were. All of the best branches on the tree were reserved for “E” ornaments. Every year we counted them before they went on the tree and we counted them as they came off. When I needed this box the other night, there was no digging involved. I knew exactly where it was.

Last fall the idea came to me that I should try to carry on this tradition for Abigail and my sister’s children. I talked with E a lot about making felt ornaments. She was confident I could do it if I managed my time well, working on them little by little. (When she was making them she had to work on them ALL YEAR LONG because she had so many to make. I can’t remember the exact number, but it was enormous.) Talk about consistency.

I got my first kit in the mail and texted her pictures of my progress. True to my nature, I finished my sister’s children’s ornaments and had them shipped early. But then we found a new rental house and the time slipped away leaving Abigail’s ornament unfinished. The ornament kit that I had planned to make for Abigail sat and sat and sat. I was annoyed that once again, I hadn’t followed through with my plan.

A few days ago I decided to get out the supplies for Abigail’s 2010 ornament. It was the end of August and if I didn’t get started I wouldn’t have a 2010 or 2011 ornament for her. I was making her the same pajama bear ornament that had always been my favorite. When E made it for me, 27 years ago, she added a snip of my blanket. I had found the exact same kit online. I pulled out my old ornament to use as a guide. And as I looked at each tiny stitch and tried to mirror them on Abigail’s ornament I knew these ornaments were about much more than Christmas. They were about connecting. Each time E worked on an ornament for me she was thinking about me. Each time I see a felt ornament I think about her. And round and round it goes.

I hope one day Abigail will open her own box of felt ornaments and proudly show her children before she hangs them on the tree. But the real joy of this experience has been something beyond sequins and slip stitches. It’s helped me see that being consistent is about doing what touches your soul. And that’s how I know I’ll be sewing ornaments for many years to come.

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7 Responses to “Striving for Consistency”

  1. Mom August 24, 2011 at 4:04 am #

    I’m calling “E” right this minute (even if I wake her up!) to make sure she sees this early! What a precious memory–even though you did leave a lot of my branches bare when you took those with you! I just need to get a smaller tree (ha, ha).

  2. Anna Kudak August 24, 2011 at 4:59 am #

    I definitely need to do a little less dabbling this year! But everything looks so interesting and I want to try it all…

    But really I should just focus on one or two things and FINISH them, right? You’re so on top of the ornaments. Way to go! That must feel incredible.

  3. Michele Scott August 24, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Congrats on your beautiful ornament and for following through! I have the same trouble over here (author Barbara Sher calls us ‘scanners’ because of our varied, fleeting interests. She says we’re necessary, the type of ppl who know about many things (with the ability to conduct the whole orchestra rather than focusing on a single instrument.) But I’ve longed to finish and be really good at something rather than constantly starting and trying new things. Thanks for being an example. Enjoy your sense of accomplishment! (returning your comment from ICLW)

  4. April August 24, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    What a wonderful tradition to continue with your daughter! Both bears are beautiful!

    ICLW

  5. KathyMagnusson August 25, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    Sarah you make the little things come to life! What a wonderfull family we belong too! Your Dad and BB are working side by side putting the floor down in my bedroon( it is beautiful) Mike M and you Dad were putting up crown molding and E was sitting with me as I was Ironing! Treasures for sure!

  6. Amy August 25, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Sarah & Kathy, You really do belong to a wonderful family and we’re always so grateful that you’ve extended the love and hospitality to us. I read this post with smiles on my face, Sarah, because your aunt’s ornaments also inspired my mom and for several years she made them for us, too! 😉

    • Sarah August 29, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

      I love that! Hope I get to see you at a holiday gathering soon!

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