How the Gingerbread Lady beat her inner scrooge
One of my colleagues has held a bazaar on the main square of our little city every December for the last twelve years. They're a bunch of chirpy but determined little ladies: they set up a stall in the centre of town every Advent Saturday and spend the day in the freezing cold, stomping their feet to keep warm, selling homemade jams and hand-knitted scarves. They have an arrangement with the local children's clinic: the clinic donates the time and resources to operate on children from war-torn countries if these ladies can raise the money to pay for the flights and accommodation for the kids and their parents. So every summer they start making jams, chutneys, hats, scarves, lavender sachets, dolls, teddy bears and Christmas decorations. When the first Saturday in Advent comes around, a little army of volunteers gathers on the main square to sell their wares.
I donate a couple of boxes of crocheted items every year. Every year my colleague and I have a fight about my donations: she feels she has to pay me for the cost of the yarn. Every year I explain that the point of donating is that I give her the stuff for free: I choose not to make a donation to a big charity, I prefer to support a small one in my local town. Besides, whatever I donate to her is sold at twice or three times the price of the yarn, so my donation increases in value. In any case, the act of donating is good for my soul. Last Thursday I emptied my box of crocheted hats and scarves and sorted them out. I had pangs parting from a few of the things, pieces that I was especially proud of. But what's the point of keeping them, neatly wrapped and pristine in their plastic bags? Away they go. My little stack of blankets, scarves and hats grew, till I'd filled a laundry basket (yes, that's only about a third of the stuff I produce in a year. I'm a one-woman factory, I'm telling you.)
Then I came across the cushions I had made in the summer: neatly wrapped in cellophane, stacked at the bottom of the wardrobe.
"They're too pretty to give away to charity," I thought. "I might give them to someone as a present."
So I quickly closed the wardrobe door and carried my box of donatables downstairs. I sat admiring my box o'goodies, feeling smug and virtuous ... and then I decided I needed to get over my smugness and virtuousness and part with something that really needed to be parted with, so I went back upstairs and fetched the cushions from the wardrobe. Before I could change my mind, I stacked them under a pile of baby blankets so I couldn't see them any more.
I handed my crocheted goods over the next day: Mr Gingerbread had to help me carry the boxes in the end. The army of chirpy ladies ooh-ed and aah-ed over my bits and pieces, and the cushions were passed around.
"They'll look so pretty and colourful on the stall!" said my colleague. "You'll have to come by and see them!"
And I did. The next morning, on the way to the bakery, I dropped by to look at my cushions. One had already been sold, something which - strangely - made my heart twang. (We didn't even get to say goodbye, cushion!) When I passed the stall again after lunch, the others had been sold to different people. My colleague was beaming.
"We were able to sell them for a great price!" she said, "And everyone who bought them really admired the amount of work that went into them!"
Which made me feel a lot better, of course. Though I'm still sad we didn't get to say goodbye.
Get over yourself, Ginger, I thought. You'll just have to make some more!
Oooh, I might even have to buy more yarn!
Bye, bye, cushions. You were a lot of fun to make. I hope your new owners love you as much as I did.