You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. -Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Today is my birthday. And I have issues with birthdays. It's not about getting older, because I don't feel old. I feel like a teenager still. It has to do with the time of year. My birthday is three weeks after Christmas. It is bleak and cold outside, the dead of winter. Although I have to give the weatherman credit today -- the sun is out. Generally, people are all partied out, not to mention broke from the holidays and more often than not my birthday gets over-looked.
Year after year of unmet expectations has made me a little bit crazy. I started to overcompensate. 10 or so years ago, I was sending out birthday cards to our immediate families. As the years passed, my list grew and my MO changed. I wanted to add a little bit of 'special' to the birthdays of everyone I knew because I knew how nice it made me feel to be remembered on my birthday. I started making birthday cards for everyone on my ever-increasing list of people. My list grew from just family to include everyone I was currently visiting teaching or serving with at church and everyone I had ever visit taught to or with or had ever worked with at church. Then I started adding in little gifts to certain categories on my list. One year I gave little homemade thought books to my sisters, sisters-in-law, mother and mother-in-law, 12 in all. Another year I made hand stamped names in 'floating' frames for all my nieces and nephews, 33 in all. That was a completely odious task and I was sick of it by February. But I had started and couldn't do some kids and not others. So I stuck with it, but the kids with birthdays in November and December got their frames in January and February.
And then we come to the year of 100 aprons. Truthfully, I haven't made 100 aprons yet and it has taken place over more than a year. From July of 2008 to date, I have made 89 aprons, with the bulk of them (76 to be precise) being made during 2009. Of those aprons, my daughter has one, I own two, three were teacher gifts and 14 were Christmas gifts (split between the two Christmases). That leaves 69 aprons which I gave as birthday gifts. Each apron takes roughly 45 minutes to cut out and 3 hours to assemble. Add that up and that makes me more than a little crazy.
Yet, the project continues. I have four more birthday aprons and two more teacher gift aprons to make. I have fabric and rick rack for at least five more aprons with thoughts of who to give them to, birthdays I missed last year, new people on the visiting teaching list, new friends I've made, etc., etc.
Below is a sampling, a representation of a little over half of the aprons I've made. I usually make them in twins for the sake of economy in fabric usage. The first picture is my adorable little LadyBug of a daughter with her apron. She picked the fabrics and rick-rack for it. The next two aprons are mine. The garden-themed apron is a one-of-a-kind and the coral and brown striped apron is a set of triplets. The others are all aprons I've given away. Click on any of the images for a closer look.
As you can see, each of the aprons is fun in its own way. I love every single one of them. I only chose fabrics that I loved for them. It has been a wonderful project, one that I'm still not sick of, although I'm glad I'm not going to be on such a tight sewing schedule this year. And I learned something from this project. Not everybody is as hung up on birthdays as I am.
A few years ago, I started to expect nothing on my birthday. And it worked out wonderfully well. By expecting nothing, I was always pleasantly surprised. And so each year after that, my birthday was less of an issue. Am I sitting here expecting a gift from each of the 69 people who I gave aprons to for their birthdays? Absolutely not! I'm sure most of them don't even know when my birthday is. And that is OK! Today is my special day, and if not one person remembers (which isn't the case, I've already been given loads of birthday wishes!) I'm OK with that because I can celebrate myself.
I'd planned to make quilted postcards for my 125+ birthday card recipients this year. I have the fabric and supplies and everything. But I've decided to take a year off from birthdays. I'm not going to send one birthday card this year. OK, that's a fib. I'll probably send one to my mom with a gift, of course. But I'm not going to stress myself out about getting cards in the mail on time. And it will be OK, because I am not responsible for single-handedly making birthdays special for everyone I know.
Just in case you're wondering about the patterns I used, they are Retro Aprons and Little Retro Aprons by Cindy Taylor Oates. I took the pocket from the Little Retro Aprons pattern and enlarged it for use on the adult aprons. It was a much cuter pocket. Oh, and the pattern has issues, like how much rick-rack it tells you to get for each apron and a construction 'goof.' Well, it's not so much of a goof as there is a better way to do it than the instructions tell. So, if you are interested in tips and tricks, leave a comment or send an e-mail (link in my profile) and I'm happy to tell you everything the experience of 89 aprons has given me.