Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Christmas Challenge to Myself

So this year we spent a boatload of money making our own children very happy. I am not immune to the Christmas "wants" and my husband made me very happy by buying me this wonderful new Mac Book Air that I am typing this blog post on. I've always loved the gifting and receiving during the Christmas season.

One of the things that was on my wish list this year was a dollhouse kit. When I was growing up, my parents bought what they could afford in the way of a dollhouse for me and what I remember is an aluminum structure with some plastic furniture and dolls. It worked fine for me then. But, after I got a look at The Bloggess' haunted dollhouse that she has been working on for 10 years (Jenny Lawson's Haunted Dollhouse), I turned pea green with envy and started obsessing about building a haunted dollhouse of my very own. I even commented on her post, asking how on earth she had put the thing together and she responded, very kindly I might add, that it had taken her a year to build the actual house and she's been scouring miniature sites and hobby stores, etc. ever since. She made a lot of the actual things that are in the house herself, such as the teeny little books that are everywhere, and there are about a million references to various horror films and books. It's totally awesome.

So, of course, I wanted one. But then I thought, "What am I going to do with this thing once I build it?" I could keep adding stuff to it. I could get my mom to make little curtains and bedspreads. I could make it a haunted dollhouse. Or I could just make it a really cool dollhouse that is furnished the way I would really like to furnish my own home - kind of like Kathleen Kelly's New York City apartment in "You've Got Mail." I drool over her furnishings every time I watch that movie.

But I got to thinking, as I saw the avarice of my own spoiled children and the "I want, I want, I want" attitudes. Not to mention my own "I want it" attitude. How did I get this spoiled and why have I passed it along to my children? I don't know the answer to that, except to say that maybe I'm a lot selfish deep down. If I want it, I buy it and, as my husband says, "We are bleeding from a thousand cuts" as I add to the "stuff" that we already have. I have done nothing to work towards that minimalist lifestyle I so admire. Nor have I done much in the way of convincing my children to give back to their fellow man.

As I thought more and more about the dollhouse, I began to think about how much joy it would bring to someone. Maybe a child who wouldn't otherwise get a Christmas gift. Maybe a sick child. Maybe...oh maybe I could build it and donate it to the local pediatric cancer ward at our hospital. And then I started getting excited. Because who deserves a really cool dollhouse if not the sick kids at the local hospital?

I waivered back and forth - I could ask the nurses to select one particular little girl and donate it to her family anonymously. Or I could just donate it to the cancer ward for all of the children to play with it.

Of course, there are two questions here. One, will I be able to part with it once I finish it? The answer to that is yes, because I have decided that if this one is successful, I will build another one the next year and donate it to someone else. And so on. Maybe one day, I will build one for myself. Or maybe this one will be the test and then I will build another one after I have some building experience under my belt.

Which brings me to the second question. Can I actually build it? After opening the box as if it was going to explode, I pulled the instruction manual out. Oh boy. What have I gotten myself into? This is no race track that I would put together in an hour to put under the Christmas tree. It's not plastic parts. It's real wood and it requires gluing, sanding, painting, leveling, measuring, staining...and that's assuming I can understand the instruction themselves, which appear to be written in a foreign language. I see an English word or two in there, but the rest all seems like, well, Sanskrit.

This morning, there was an article in our local paper about a 98 year old woman who died recently and left the dollhouse she had built to the local Discovery Museum. She wanted to share all of her creativity with the kids in Winchester. When I saw that dollhouse and the amazing things she had made for it, I thought, "There has to be a way I can do this without it being a total disaster. If I can learn to cook, I can learn to do this."

So, after all the Christmas decorations are put away and I make my first run to the hobby store for the right kind of glue and whatever else I need (anyone know what "light spackle" is?), I will empty the box out onto our dining room table and see if I can figure out how to build this thing. And if it turns out, I will solicit donations of handmade items to put into it, along with furnishings and such.

Hopefully, it will be done by next December and I will have figured out who is going to receive it. And I also hope it will be something that someone would want to receive.

I'm a smart, college educated person with a bachelor's degree and 30 years of sewing experience. But building - that's something else. I am going into this with a positive attitude and I will post pictures along the way. Oh, and cover it at night so the cats don't think all those little pieces are cat toys. (I may want to look into some rubbermaid containers!)


  1. I remember the dollhouse that my mom made when I was little that was like this one. Awesome for you to take on a project like this and donate it to somewhere! I am now following your blog. I write a blog over @ twomischievousmonkeys.com about life with my kids, product reviews and mommy life and would appreciate a follow back.


  2. That's awesome, Tara. Do you still have it?

    I have to confess to being terrified about this project. My craftiness really only extends to my cross stitching, so this is a HUGE stretch for me.

    Thanks for following me. I will check out your blog!


  3. That is a truly amazing idea and I'm kind of jealous that you are going to embark on such an adventure (by the way, I find google is a life saver whenever I don't understand an instuction) but figure that once I'm ahead of the game in my life (something I expect to take a few years) I might have to follow your lead and attempt something as amazing. Can't wait to see how it turns out for you.

  4. Thanks, Tamara. I feel extremely overwhelmed after pulling the instructions out. I told my husband that it looks like "sanskrit" and not English!

    I ordered a book yesterday on how to build dollhouses. I think I will wait and read that before I get started. This may end up being a test dollhouse so I can learn how to do it and then I will make another one to donate.


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