Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Tip for Using Pinterest to Inspire, not Shame

I was going to say, "Here's the thing about Pinterest," but of course, it's not THE thing.  There are LOTS of things about Pinterest, some good and some bad.  But here's one thing I am figuring out.

If I like the idea, it's okay if my execution doesn't look like the pin.  I'm not talking "Pintrosoties," where the Rudolph cake winds up looking more like what comes out the back end of the reindeer than an actual reindeer.  I just mean it's okay that I don't have great handwriting or a color printer or the will to laminate things.  If a pin has a non-decorative function, it can be done plainly and still be successful. 

Last year, my first with children, I glommed onto the great idea all over Pinterest to have a book-a-day Advent program.  I called my sisters, both of whom have finished raising their kids, and they donated 25 holiday books they'd collected over the years.  One came over with a huge bag of gently used wrapping paper from past years, and we drank coffee and wrapped books while my husband took the kids roller skating.  Then each night in December we unwrapped a book to read.  My kids were still learning English, so some books were easier for them to follow than others, but picture books about the holidays are generally beautiful to look at, and if we got one that was too hard, we could always go back and re-read a few that were becoming favorites.  It was such a great way to introduce them to the culture of the holidays, it was literacy practice, it was family bonding. 

Naturally, I wanted to repeat it this year, which means it is now Hallowed Tradition.  But this year I didn't have time to bring in the troops to help prepare.  I thought about not wrapping the books, but unwrapping is a good deal of the fun.  So the other night I stayed up late and wrapped books.  The used wrapping paper I found was not as careful kept as that of my perfectionist sister.  Once I decided I didn't care about that, I also stopped caring about folding in the corners and creasing the seams.  The packages all look like they were wrapped by a blind man in a hurricane, working with material that happened to blow by.  Who cares?  Not my kids, who were thrilled to see the stack of packages, and ripped enthusiastically into the first one, welcoming it with cries of joy, as at a reunion with an old friend.  (Jan Brett's "Home for Christmas"; what a great start.) 

This year I wanted to add a piece.  You've seen the blogs and pins about Random Acts of Kindness?  Fun examples here and here.  So I came up with 25 "Kindnesses" (they weren't all random--I included "go on a walk with Mom," "Give Daddy a back rub" and "Write a card for grandpa") and printed them out.  Then I stuck them in a lunch sack.  Hey, it was a crisp, unused lunch sack.  Each night, one kid will pick the book to unwrap, and the other will pick the kindness card, something we can all do the next day.  The next night, we'll discuss how it went.  

Nice, yes?  Well, all the OTHER people on Pinterest had cute little cards and stickers to hand out when they surprised someone with their act, or at the very least, printed out their cards for their kids in red and green on cardstock paper.  And that is okay.  It's okay that there are people who can't do anything without making it visually appealing.  I'm related to several of those people.  But it's ALSO okay that I can ignore the visual stuff, and just focus on the idea.  

{I've since seen this pin, and for a minute I was all, "AAARRRGHH I must now glue each slip of paper onto colorful paper and then make a chain!" but then I came to my senses.}

There are areas where aesthetics are important to me, and I have often been accused of being crafty.  (Um.  I guess I'll let that stand as is.)  But form follows function, or so I've heard.  So I give myself--and you!--full permission to embrace "pin-worthy" activities that do not produce "pin-worthy" photos. 

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