It was Friday night and I was at Target. I finally tracked down the platter and plates the bride and groom requested on their gift registry.
I wandered around the store, thinking. "I think I'll give the platter at the bridal shower on Sunday and save the plates for the wedding gift."
A little more wandering. "But just a platter picked from a registry is sort of boring, what else can I give her? Hmmm...I think I have fabric that would match the platter and plates, maybe I should make some cloth napkins to give as well."
More wandering, more thinking. "But really, are they going to use cloth napkins? And do I really want to spend my entire Saturday making them? No, not really.
"Ooh...here are some tea towels! I love tea towels! But should I really give her plain tea towels? Maybe I should embroider something on them. But the shower is on Sunday! I can't embroider that fast!
"Oh no, what will I do? I just can't show up without something handmade...why did I wait until the last minute to think about this?"
Walk. Think. Fret. "Wait! I don't have to give them something handmade! I'm living my creative life without obligation!"
I ran to the register with a relieved smile on my face, wrapped everything up with a flourish and set it aside. Then I started cutting fabric for a fun project.
As you can see, giving gifts is one of my major "with obligation" areas. I get so stressed thinking of something fantastic to make, something they will like, only to stay up late nights making things and not having any fun. I've pretty much stopped giving handmade gifts for major holidays/birthdays because of this. But sometimes, like Friday, the compulsion, the obligation still creeps up on me.
This doesn't mean I've given up making handmade gifts for people, though. Instead of waiting for a special occasion, I make things for them when I feel like it. Then I can give it to them right away or, if it's close to a holiday/birthday, I might be able to wait until then. Usually I can't wait, though.
Of course, there may be consequences for giving gifts without obligation when your family knows that you often make handmade gifts. After the bride-to-be opened my gift, someone yelled across the room "Why didn't you embroider the tea towels?"
Oh no! Total mortification! Internal panic! Then I thought about my obligation free Saturday filled with sewing things I wanted to sew and I felt better.
I smiled and calmly replied "I'm sorry but I just didn't have the time."