Thursday, 6 April 2017

Crafter Laughter is the Best Medicine

Sometimes life gets murky.
We all have our own special ways of coping - an online shopping spree, a good cry, a movie marathon accompanied by vast quantities of popcorn and chocolate, a hike across Siberia.

I have this craft group.
I know! It sounds dull and slightly embarrassing  - 1970’s Woman’s Day meets Bridget Jones' mother. It also sounds totally inadequate. 

But it’s not. It’s fabulous. 

This craft group is full of women. These women are smart, creative, funny, honest, energetic, kind and caring. They know the value of a strong cup of tea and a chilled glass of champagne. They can sniff out a packet of Tim Tams at twenty paces. And they keep me sane. 

We started meeting seventeen years ago. We were all busy having babies, raising families, earning a living, managing households and businesses, volunteering on committees, running youth groups and manning sausage sizzles all over the countryside. Goodness! I even learned how to score a game of cricket and, let me tell you, that is one heck of a commitment! These were all great things to be doing but a group of us decided that it would be nice/soothing/sanity-saving  to have one thing a fortnight that was just for us. No husbands. No kids. No fundraising.

That thing was Craft.

We rocked up on the first week, our straw baskets overflowing with fabric, scissors, knitting needles, balls of yarn and visions of homes decorated with handmade delights. We gathered at the local primary school, sipped tea, ate chocolate biscuits and, yes, we actually did some craft.  
Except for my friend Natasha-Rose* who does not do craft under any circumstances. Year 7 Textiles and Design classes had left both her and her teacher scarred for life. However, a night out without kids was too much to resist, so she rocked up with a smile and a pile of garden magazines.

Week by week, we continued to meet. We stitched and crocheted. We sipped tea and champagne. We nibbled chocolate and cheese. And we talked.

About everything.

The good, the bad and the things that left us utterly gobsmacked.

And believe me, between us, we’ve had  the lot - breast cancer, cosmetic surgery, childbirth, fertility struggles, battles with depression, exciting new jobs, retirement, divorce,  new homes, cruises, nasty diseases, spider bites and the joyful arrival of grandchildren, to name just a few. We’ve raised children with a range of unique needs - including albinism, autism, depression and life-threatening physical illnesses - and rejoiced at their resilience and successes.  We’ve cried when one of our own lost her battle with cancer and left a loving, grieving family behind.  We’ve celebrated when another married the man of her dreams who also turned out to be the father of her children’s dreams. There’s a world of stuff that has happened to our little group.

Seventeen years have whisked by, and we’re still doing Craft. We now meet in my living room. We have stopped hiding the bickies and champagne beneath balls of fluffy wool. We waltz through the door waving them merrily in the air. Workbaskets often sit, untouched, at their owners’ feet (or don’t even make it to out of the car).  Because Craft has evolved to mean so much more than threading DMC into one’s needle and poking it through a piece of aida cloth. Craft is a place where we can let our hair down amidst a group of women who will not judge. No matter what we say or do.

It’s a safe place.

A little refuge in our weeks.

A sanity session.

It’s not complicated. Most of the time we just talk and laugh. In fact, we laugh so loudly that, if we run late, my husband goes to bed with silicon plugs stuffed down his ear holes.  We laugh at our mishaps and faux pas (even our tragedies). We say whatever we like and we poke merciless fun at one another and nobody ever takes offence. Never ever. Because we know that we are there to boost one another up come rain, poo-storm or shine.

Sometimes, we don’t even call it Craft. We meet at another member’s house and we call it Games Night . We all bring delicious food and we play family board games and shout and laugh until our tummies ache and we start to worry that the EPA will slap us with a noise pollution fine.

Sometimes, there are quiet one-on-one moments. A chat beside the kettle. A hug at the back door. A deep and meaningful discussion in the driveway beneath the stars. But most of the time, our gatherings involve a lot of noisy group-talking and laughter. And it keeps me sane.

Laughter is great medicine.

But laughter amidst friends who have your back and your front - and your lost stitches on your knitting - is the bomb.

Crafter laughter is the best medicine of all.

·  *Not her real name. Just in case she wants to keep up the illusion that she is a knitter or embroiderer. 

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