By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Christmas brings to mind the iconic imagery of Santa’s workshop.
It’s been depicted many ways over the years, but the basis remains the same: There is a place, at the North Pole, where elves work tirelessly to bring children’s dreams to life in the form of toys. Dollies, skateboards and everything in between are each made with care by small, magical creatures, wrapped up and transported via sleigh straight to the home of the child who dreamt it up.
Far-fetched as it is, the concept enthralled me as a kid, and seems to be doing the same for the majority of the children I know today.
People who can make things still enthrall me. Count me among the plebeians who can’t honestly call myself an artisan in any way, shape or form. When it comes to making things, I’m best at messes, and pretty good at plans. But beautifully handmade works of utility or art? Absolutely not.
Luckily, North Idaho seems to be a maker’s haven. There are some seriously talented people in our neck of the woods. I am reminded of this every time I stroll the Farmers’ Market in the summer months, and again in winter as creators peddle their wares in hopes of playing a part in customers’ gift-giving obligations.
I recently attended a craft fair at the Clark Fork-Hope Area Senior Center (which, for the record, hosts all sorts of events and serves more than just seniors, which is a message that the center’s organizers are adamant about spreading). There were around 20 vendors selling everything from quilted tote bags to clay brooches to charcuterie boards.
I learned that a friend I graduated high school with now makes incredible candles, and also found a woman who makes delicate, beautiful resin jewelry with real flowers. These people often take on these labors apart from their daily obligations of work and family, and manage to make our community a cooler place because of it.
The awe I hold in my heart for people who can make something out of nothing seems to have played a vital role in who I chose as my partner. I say “seems” because I don’t think my husband checked any conscious box for me — “He makes stuff! He’s worthwhile!” — but, looking back on our courtship, I did find myself amazed with his creative powers on more than one occasion.
For instance, when we decided to move in together, I discovered that most of the furniture he owned, he’d made. To this day, I am still learning that many of the things we have — wood, metal, mechanical — exist because he built, welded or fixed them up.
On several occasions, I’ve made offhanded comments about things we could use in our home, and he’s made those things a reality. The first time this happened, he produced a bread box made of repurposed wood in a single afternoon. The second time, bookends. The desk at which I sit and the bookshelf that holds my favorite novels all came to be because my husband made it so. That’s nothing short of magic, to me.
’Tis the season of the makers, among which I don’t count myself in any serious way. Still, there is something undeniably therapeutic in trying to create without the expectation of a good outcome. It’s in this spirit that I occasionally draw — mostly flowers, which my husband tells me are beautiful. It’s rich, coming from a guy with talent comparable to Santa’s elves.
I appreciate it, all the same.
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