My family didn’t use our "formal" dining room for over a year after we first moved into our house. We didn’t have a table large enough for us all to sit at, although we did have a much-loved hand-me-down table in our kitchen (used for everything from meals, to painting, to homework). We knew that we wanted a nice table that would last through the years and planned on saving up for one.
After finding some old floor boards in great shape on one of our bulk pick-up hunts, my husband, Chris, decided to use them to make a table instead. He found some plans online for a design similar to what we had already been looking for and got to it. He did have some basic woodworking skills under his belt already, but it was just his second piece of furniture. It took some time (frequent late nights in his shop) and a little extra money for supplies, but we’ve been enjoying our handmade dining table for almost eight months now!
There are a million different ways that you, too, can be a maker of things. You can bake bread, sew clothing, plant vegetables, build a chair, paint a picture, take a photograph, even the essential act of preparing a meal—these are all forms of making, and all forms of creative expression. We may not all be capable of being a jack-(or jill)-of-all-trades, but we can learn to be a maker of something—and there’s no one to tell you what that can or can’t be. The possibilities are endless.
With that, you also run the danger of trying to make too many things—like I said, there are a million different things to pick up making, but I’m just one woman with a husband, four kids, and a home to take care of, too. But it’s often easy for my eyes to be too big for my hands, and there’s no way I could make all of the things I’d like to.
So the challenge is not to get overwhelmed before you start. I find the easiest way to decide which project I should start working on, is by thinking about what our needs are. And need is a relative term here. Do I need to crochet those extra washcloths so that we can use them instead of paper towels for spills in the kitchen? Well, no. But they would improve the state of our home and our grocery budget. Do I need to make my son twenty handmade toys for his birthday? No. But one well-thought-out handmade toy will do.
It’s about weighing the value of what you wish to make against the actual purpose and use you’ll get out of the item. And some things will take a long time to make, but if you stick to it, those things can greatly enrich the story of your family and home.
With that said, the act of making has become such a core value in our family. The things we make connect us to the meaning of home and the nourishment of our family. And even the kids are quick to figure out how they can make things rather than asking to just go out and buy it (most of the time!).
I'm so grateful to my husband for making this table for us. It is so much more than a table. It is the place where we come together and break bread. And, hopefully, it will be the setting for many more family meals to come.
How do you build meaning into your world through making?