Who will buy…a clock or two? Etsy anyone?

Daily Prompt – Clock

These clocks, and many others, along with candle holders, signs, weather stations, desk sets and now tables, are overrunning all the spaces on the lower level of our split level home.  Spouse  has been creating these works of art at least since I retired two and a half years ago.  Actually he has made more beautiful things and has been making them longer than that.

He made the clock with the San Francisco skyline before we met.  This, along with a beautiful large and heavy clock made from burl wood and a game table made from a large spool which previously had carried electric cables wrapped around it, were part of the decor of his Long Beach bachelor pad.  Making things like this out of wood was a hobby he had developed when he had first struck out on his own, and he’d made a little money off it by selling them at the swap meet.  He had been salivating to get back to it in retirement, and went at it with an enthusiastic vengeance as soon as we were permanently settled in our retirement home.

He still gets a lot of enjoyment out of making this stuff, but that has been unfortunately tempered by our inability to sell any of it.  We didn’t really try to sell them for the first year.  During that time he was having more fun getting wood from our new neighbors, two or three other retired gentlemen, working to return the raw material to them as finished products.  We tried to place them for consignment sale in some local craft shops, but the reception of the owners there was tepid at best.  Finally, at the end of last year, we made a sale at an annual holiday arts show.  We learned from other craftspeople at that show that the place to move this sort of locally produced natural product was in the Great Smoky Mountains town of Gatlinburg, which, like its neighboring cities of Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, is kind of a rustic yet sophisticated, woodsy yet modern, eclectic and airy “mountain resort” in a beautiful natural area that is now, more often than not, crowded with vehicles and amusements  of all types.   This gateway to America’s most popular (probably since entry is free) national park boasts an aquarium, an indoor ice rink and a distillery, as well as a “historic beautiful and peaceful craft crawl” on an 8-mile loop of local roads which has been designated a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail.

It was there, as we walked in and out of half a dozen or so stores that included wood products in their guidebook descriptions, that we were joltingly reminded that nobody uses clocks any more to tell the time; we all do that on our cell phones now.  Still, the clocks that Spouse has made in the past remain beautiful works of art, and I think the tables he is slaving over and investing in now, are even more beautiful and, perhaps now that our eyes have been opened to the facts of modern life, possibly even more functional and salable.  That, at least, is our hope, as we prepare to bring our wares to the local holiday craft show again later this year, and to really and finally join the 21st century sales force, by taking a class together at the local library so we can learn how to etsy, which I think could probably be a verb like google and facebook.

 

 

Holiday Traditions of A Blended Faith Family

Traditions: we’ve all got ‘em, especially around the holidays.  What is it about my family’s traditions that keep them going strong for my children in our blended faith family?

I was raised by two liberal Jewish parents.  The Hanukkah tradition in our home included lighting the menorah each night, then opening one of the presents that had been arranged around a three foot tall foil covered Star of David my dad made as a substitute Xmas tree.  The presents grew in size (and probably in value) over the eight nights of the holiday.  I think one year we might have broken Mom down and got a tree, which we euphemistically called a Hanukkah bush.  Every year Dad put the blue and white “Xmas” lights in the window.

My spouse was raised as a Mormon and was married a couple of times to at least semi-Mormon women.  He brought a lot of leftover ornaments to our marriage.  I was pregnant when we celebrated our first Xmas together.  He was so excited and told me that our baby had to have a Xmas tree, even if she wasn’t here to see it yet.   I went along with it when he went out and purchased a new fake tree and put it up in front of the window in his house.   He pulled out the recycled ornaments and lights and we decorated it together.

Fast forward about 3 or 4 years.  We now have two daughters who are well acquainted with both their Jewish and Mormon grandparents and know that the beliefs of each are nowhere near the same.  In the interim, every year, we put up the new fake tree with the recycled ornaments.  By this age, the kids are in pre-school and other places where making Xmas ornaments is standard practice.

So we expanded the tradition by adding a menorah, and then two menorahs so there would not be fights over who would light the candles.  I continued my family’s Hanukkah gift-giving practice starting on the first night with equal or equivalent dollar store items for each of my girls and ending eight nights later with equal or equivalent department or book or electronics store items.  The kids made new ornaments and decorations at school and scouts every year.  We also started to buy ornaments as souvenirs on family trips so over the years the new ornaments replaced the recycled ones, which were falling apart or breaking anyway, and the fake tree became a very real part of our holiday traditions.

Later, decorating and undecorating the tree were added as family activities.  Our family, being non-traditional in many ways at this time of year, did it a little different than most I knew.  Dad and Mom would take the tree out of the box and build it.  Then Dad and kids would string the lights, followed by Mom and kids unpacking boxes of ornaments and decorations, trimming the tree and the house. The whole process, including participants, happened in reverse at the end of the season.