I ticked something off my bucket list the other day.
# 27: Make cornhusk dolls with my granddaughters.
When our children were young and we lived in Ontario, our family ran a small cottage industry called “Church Mice Associated.” Since we identified with the poverty of that proverbial rodent, we thought it appropriate.
I breathed, ate, slept, and taught crafts back then; all the popular country crafts of the 80s. Folk-painted items, wallpaper bandboxes, willow wreaths and baskets. Everyone helped. Using a scroll saw, the Preacher cut out my designs for the wooden items. After they were painted, he and the children helped me schlep them around to craft fairs or classes, sometimes packaging finished items to mail either to customers or the magazine I designed for at the time.
Years later, when the craft bug stopped biting, I moved to crafting words. Bit by bit, I began parting with my craft supplies—but not all. The other day I dragged a large box off a forgotten shelf, blew off the dust, unsealed and opened it, then hauled out a bundle of corn husks. Then I called the grandbeans. “Who wants to make cornhusk dolls?” I asked.
Long ago, our family had picked those husks ourselves. A few farmers in our church grew cattle corn and agreed to let us venture into their cornfields and be “reverse raccoons.” We kept the husks, but threw back the corn.
We crafted memories in those years. On crisp fall days, the Preacher and I snapped corn from stalks while the children and their friends—other kids, kittens and puppies—played tag among acres of rustling cornstalks. Days later, we made more memories as crafters gathered around our sun-splashed dining table to fashion the dried husks into wreaths, dolls and flowers. The leftover husks have occupied valuable real estate on my shelves for two decades—just so I could make more of those memories with our grandchildren.
Step by step, I led the two oldest ladybeans through the stages of making their own doll. They didn’t know what we were making—I’d purposely not shown them any examples—but they followed carefully. They learned to tie knots. They learned that corn husk has a right and wrong side. And a few hours later, dolls complete, they had more fun with those plain faceless dolls than I’ve seen them have with any manufactured ones.
Life is rushed. Complicated. Space on all our shelves is at a premium. Often I’ve thought of tossing all those husks. But an inner voice cautioned me. Reminded me that when it comes to our children, our best gifts don’t come from a store shelf. They come from slowing down. From making time. From passing on simple skills. That when they know we love them enough to do that—regularly—they’ll be more likely to pay attention to the values and faith we want to pass on most of all.
Put it on your bucket list: Make time.