A few years ago, I crocheted dolls of Anna and Elsa (from the movie Frozen). I had a great book, AmiguruME, by Allison Hoffman, that detailed how to personalize crocheted dolls to look like celebrities or fictional characters. The book has great ideas on yarn choices for hair, how to make facial features, and even has some patterns for clothing. I pulled pictures of both characters from the Internet, grabbed my crochet hook, and got busy. About 2 months later 😉 I had two great looking dolls. I proudly took a bunch of pictures, from multiple angles and some up close to show details on their dresses and of their hair, and finally one with me and “the girls”; I had gotten somewhat attached to my little creations over those several months!

After the holidays, I was at work, and proudly shared my pictures with my coworkers. I got almost the same response every time: “I could never do that!”

It surprised me, but it also got me thinking: why were my colleagues, talented and smart people (medical professionals), so certain that they couldn’t create something like a crocheted doll? The stitches weren’t complicated; I had patterns for the dolls themselves, and most of the clothes. The trickiest part was the detailed stitching on Anna’s skirt. But I had done counted cross stitch when I was young, so even that didn’t seem hard, just time-consuming.

My mom taught me counted cross stitch, and we had spent hours together doing complicated stitching patterns in the living room of our house in Southern Illinois, and later aboard our nautical home, a 37-foot Tayana that was docked in Texas. Both of my parents did crafts; mom would turn her cross stitch masterpieces into pillows or framed works of art, and my dad did wood working and stained glass. They both wrote fiction on and off, and encouraged me in both writing prose and even some not terribly maudlin adolescent poetry. They signed me up for various art classes through community programs in both Illinois and Texas. And even though my focus in high school and college was scientific, as I prepared for medical school and eventually became a pediatrician, they encouraged me to continue to be creative and were creative models themselves. It was a family thing, so ingrained in our daily lives that I can’t help but do something creative with my free time almost daily. It was a habit.

After reflecting on my colleagues’ reactions to “the girls”, I concluded that I was fortunate to have been brought up in a household where creating was second nature, just habit, in a way that has been lost over the years in our mass-produced culture. I think that we’re so used to be able to buy anything we need, or will give as a gift, that it never occurs to most people that we can make things ourselves. These hand-made objects that be not only functional, but also amazing expressions of ourselves and our love for the people in our lives. The love that goes into making a handmade baby gift or child’s toy can be felt and appreciated with each hug, or every time the recipient wraps it around them, or uses the bowl for a breakfast of cereal, or looks at the framed drawing on the wall at night before they rest. My creative nature helps me express my love for others, and that’s a pretty great habit to have!