So my husband made the most awesome gift for me this year: a telescope.
Yeah. A t-e-l-e-s-c-o-p-e.
He worked on it for more than a month - evenings, weekends, he was holed up in our garage, working away. It never occurred to me that he was making a telescope. I mean - who does that? Especially when they haven't made anything before. That's right, this was my husband's first woodworking project.
I was excited to get to share it with the MAKE readers yesterday, and was surprised to learn that it had been picked up by Gizmodo. (although, no, Chris hasn't cheated on me.)
Because you can read about the actual telescope everywhere else, I thought I'd examine some interesting thoughts and emotions that have surfaced in the wake of revealing the project.
Setting the bar high
A friend's husband emailed her when he saw the project on Gizmodo, saying Chris had "raised the bar" on husband/wife gifts. I guess he has, but here's the thing: Chris and I rarely exchange gifts. I've actually watched said friend exchange sweet, small gifts with her husband for years, and wished Chris and I did more of that. There's something to be said for small, meaningful, frequent gifts. Sure, a handmade telescope that ends up getting a lot of internet publicity is cool, but it doesn't mean that smaller gifts aren't special or should be made to feel inadequate.
A gift for gift's sake
The closing line on the Gizmodo post really zinged me:
So Rachel, you've got a really nice husband, but he's probably cheated on you in the past year. That's the only logical explanation.I know this is just hipster snark, and that's fine and all, but really? Are we all so jaded that we can't accept that someone would make a gift for gift's sake (or for - gasp - love!)? I also like to think this was as much a gift for Chris as it was for me. He works a lot, and the hours he spent in the garage with his favorite music playing was an excellent way to unwind and relax and get creative for a bit. To me, the gift of the telescope is secondary to that gift of time for himself.
Inspiring some low self-esteem
One thing that has surprised me about myself from all of this is a bit of a feeling of inadequacy. (and, yeah, I know this is just my own little issue and I'll get over it just fine, but it's still worth mentioning) Remember how I said this was Chris' first woodworking project? It's really his first project of any sort, and he nailed it. Like on-the-head nailed it. He decided to do it, found plans online and excecuted it perfectly. Has my first version of anything I've made ever been anywhere in the same vicinity of perfect?
What gives? I'm suppposed to be the creative one in our equation. I'm supposed to be the "Maker" here. He's the accountant, the spreadsheet guy, and now he's showing me up in the field of making stuff, too? It's causing me to reevaluate my methods. Sometimes I'm a little too happy-go-lucky-fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-give-plans-the-finger. Maybe there's something to be said for his extrememe focus, determination and fortitude. I rarely finish a project on time, I'm always scrambling, procrastinating ... playing. He started and finished the project BOOM-BOOM-BOOM. Done and done. Do NOT get me wrong, playing is essential, but sometimes I mistake lollygagging for playing and my work suffers.
I know Chris didn't expect all this to come from the telescope project, and if anything it's just an interesting way to see how a handmade gift can spark more thought and discussion than you imagined. Who knew a gift made to look out into the heavens could turn focus so much closer to home?