On Valentine's Day this year Lucia and Nancy planned to make a fancy dinner and surprise me. The surprise was leaked and we decided to expand our threesome to include some of our favorite friends, bringing our love fest to seven.
Around this time, I was also lamenting my decision to get Lucia a Kindle Fire for her birthday in October. Since she got the Kindle Fire, she's had a slow and steady progression of spending more and more time on her "device" and it has been making me mad, sad, frustrated and confused.
In and attempt to get myself off of my my phone and laptop and, in preparation for Valentine's Day, I turned everything off and started "crafting." I pulled out the craft paper, scissors, glue, and old magazines and went to work on the dining room table. I waited patiently and eventually Lucia came down and joined me in the card making. Nancy absconded to her crafty friend Tammy's house and came home with secret envelopes.
The resulting Valentine's cards were perfect. And here's why: making something by hand, whether it is food, socks, or a card, is an act of love, something we have less and less time for these days. I suspect it is why there are more and more little boutiques with precious, tiny handmade somethings that carry a hefty price tag. When I was making my cards, I found myself becoming increasingly more focused, energized, and excited as I cut and glued with my loved ones in mind. I got so excited when I found wrapping paper with fireworks that I could use to make the heart shapes on Nancy's card. I knew Lucia would appreciate all of the tiny little "Xs" and "Os" I cut out to form the words on her card.
We exchanged cards on Valentine's Day, and I also made a new Kindle Fire rule- it lives in my room and Lucia has significantly more restricted use (she handled the news surprising well.) We all loved our cards so much that we decided to string them from the light fixtures in the kitchen so we could admire them while we cooked. Lucia used all the extra hearts and scraps to make place cards for our party and she sprinkled the extra hearts around the table as decoration.
Before I got a computer and a phone, I spent a lot more time making things by hand. I sewed, I knit, I canned beans, I made paper out of my recycling. Ten years ago, I always had some kind of project brewing; making Valentine's Day cards reminded me how good it feels to engage in that way.
So what's my lesson? There are a few. One-- it's hard to tell my kid to stop looking at a screen when I'm guilty of it as well. Two-- slowing down and making something by hand is a beautiful, perfect, highly satisfying experience, especially when it's for the ones you love.