It’s the old adage that ‘tis better to give than to receive and for the most part I’ve always agreed and took way more pleasure in watching others open their gifts rather than open my own. I’ve been bred to have low present expectations, so basically anything I get I’m fine with, but because of this I’m hardly ever excited to open my gifts… like at all… and prefer to go last. If it is something I like or will use, I think I convey that I like/love it to the giver enough (though admittedly I’m not that much of an excited/animated person). I do however take enormous pleasure in watching someone open a gift – especially if it’s a gift I knew they wanted, was really appropriate for them and/or I made/painted/crafted it myself.
Because I know not everyone enjoys a “homemade” gift, I save what painting talents I have for those who actually request it or already know they’d appreciate it (like my mother for instance).
This year my mother-in-law told me flat out that she would enjoy a hand painted frame and a new family picture of me, hubby and our son (seeming the last time we managed a family picture was in 2008).
She also requested irises (her favorite flower) to be painted on the frame and the rest was up to me.
I was looking forward to painting this frame for her. About a couple of months ago I spent the better part of an hour at a Michael’s crafts store looking for a decent unfinished frame that I could paint. No luck. They have a couple but they are small, cheap, don’t have glass or a real backing… screw that. I ended up going into the finished frame section and found one closer to what I was looking for and even though I probably wasn’t meant to paint over it, I slapped some primer on and went to town.
I really took the time to think out how I was going to incorporate the irises, the placement, the quantity and how I could make it all match the décor of my MIL’s living room. This was hard because nothing she has is purple and of course, irises are purple, so I needed them to somehow blend with the other colors I was going to go with.
I ended up spending a lot of time trying to match her living room wall color to the color on the inner most part of the frame while focusing on the greens of her furniture for the outer part.
I personally would have never used these colors… if the frame had been for me, it would have been a primarily blue background for sure, but my MIL has NOTHING blue in her entire house.
It was really hard for me to not go with my gut instant for colors and stick to hers, but I worked through it and thought I ended up with a livable mix of her colors and the purple irises. I had to throw in a little “me” with whimsical spiral scribbles (honestly I didn’t know what else to put there as I didn’t want to overwhelm the thing with just irises all over). I felt like it needed “spark”, so for the first time ever, I added some “bling” (mini gems) to my artwork. I thought it helped elevate it.
So after I finally was satisfied with what I had created for her, then it was time to pull a nice family picture out of our asses. The reason we hadn’t had a picture of the three of us since 2008 was because it was such a pain to do. My son is not always agreeable to sit and smile on cue. The only way around this I could think of was not trying to pull off a professional sit down photo setting type picture. We ended up stacked up outside on our trampoline and my son was having a ball and with our tripod to hold the camera, we actually had three decent shots to choose from (amazing!).
So finally I added the picture to the frame and I was done! Yay. I was proud I got it done and I really thought my MIL would be pleased.
And now here it is, Christmas morning and time for presents. My MIL’s reaction to my hard work was well… anticlimactic.
Here’s how it went (me with my camera ready): she opened it, smiled at the picture and said “oh, that’s a great picture” and then handed it off to my father-in-law to look at and went back to another gift in front of her she’d already opened. He noticed the frame and asks if I painted it and I proudly said “yes” (thinking for a moment that my MIL perhaps thought I bought the frame and that just the picture was the present) and my FIL was like “oh wow” and that’s when my MIL said “of course… it’s so [my first name]” and that was it… she never took a second look and it ended up on the table with all the other framed family photos.
Her saying that it was “so me” was NOT a compliment seeming my taste and her taste are basically completely opposite and she knows this and knows I know this. I like purples, blues and silver, she likes red, golds, greens and even fuchsia. The only thing “me” about it was the whimsy which I figured she could handle seeming I did it all in her living room colors.
So yeah… that was it… I just kept thinking in my head “that was it?” ahh… ok. But the more I thought about it, the more it bugged and hours later, here I am blogging (a BIG sign I needed to write it all down and get it out of my head so hopefully I can move on).
I couldn’t help but wonder if that frame had had a picture of a sonogram of what would have been their second biological grandchild, how much different of a reaction there would have been. This added to my disappointment and sadness that it just didn’t go over as well as I’d hoped. Of course I can’t tell them we’d been trying for a baby the last few months and that was the picture I’d hoped I could put in the frame for them.
It’s not like I expected a world of praise or anything, just some positive acknowledgement. If not prompted by her husband, she would have said nothing about the frame I worked so hard on… nothing.
For a person that had been begging me to paint something for her for a while now, I thought there would be some verbal appreciation. Let me tell you, it will be a long time before I ever bother sharing and giving her any of my artist gifts again.