A Creative Tradition for the Untraditional Creative
“My creativity might not look like something tangible–but rather something my audience and I can look at on the computer screen.”

“Creativity” means different things to different people. And I’ve been known to say that I don’t have a creative bone in my body, except once a year.

Let me explain.

Growing up, my sister was the creative one. When she as about 8, she asked our grandmother to teach her how to knit and crochet, something she still does to this day. She makes blankets and scarves and sweaters for friends and family members–and even sells them on an Etsy site. Not to mention, my sister also played the violin and piano, and now organizes quarterly craft days with her friends. To me, that’s creative.

When my sister and I were kids, my mom took up tole painting and macrame. She and friends sold crafts at craft fairs several times a year–crafts like hand-stuffed animals and beautiful painted wildlife sketches on glass. To me, that’s creative.

When I think of my creativity, I typically draw a blank.

I never had the patience to let my grandmother teach me to knit. I tried tole painting, but because my projects (at age 10, mind you) never came out as beautiful as my mom’s, I gave up quickly.

I also didn’t have that creative energy to play pretend when my daughter was little. She used to want me to play with her dolls and stuffed animals, hopping them around for some pretend, elaborate scene she made up in her head. Me? I let my dolls hop along, hoping I could follow her storyline (and usually getting in trouble with her when I spaced out).

To be totally honest, I was really happy when she outgrew that stage. (I used to beat myself up for hating to play pretend with her–now I know that I’m not alone.)

See, I’m a linear thinker. I like when things match up and I can fill up all the boxes.

As a teenager, I could spin a story to tell my parents about why I was late for curfew (again), but I outgrew that storytelling ability as an adult. What I thought of as creative juices just stopped flowing when I hit my mid-20s.

Now, as a writer, well-past my mid-20s (by about 20 years), I know that I do have some creativity in me. I can come up with content ideas for businesses like nobody else. I can find ways to connect ideas that really have no business going together (but that feel magical when they do). And I can find a way to write about creativity when most of the time I don’t feel creative at all.

But there is one time each year that I’m truly creative. Artsy-fartsy, if you will.

It’s a tradition that was started years and years ago, before I was even a twinkle in my mother’s eye. Heck, before my parents even met.

You see, all the women in my family seem to have the creative gene that I feel like I missed out on. My mom’s maternal grandmother started a tradition (unbeknownst to her) of making Christmas ornaments. My mom’s mom passed away when my mom was young, so the tradition paused until my sister and I were young. Then us girls started making ornaments for our tree.

Today, my daughter and I carry on that tradition. Every year we choose an ornament to make for our tree–and our family’s and friends’ trees. We’ve made beaded candy canes, decoupaged glass ornaments with old family sheet music, reindeer candy canes and “candied” ribbon. And about 12 other ornaments–one for every one of my daughter’s Christmases.

Our Christmas tree isn’t the fanciest one out there. It doesn’t “match” and it certainly wouldn’t end up in any Martha Stewart-esque magazines. But I’m proud to say it’s one of the most creative.

Every one of our ornaments was either handmade or a gift. So while the tree isn’t pretty, it’s very meaningful and we have so much fun reminiscing while we decorate every year. I truly hope my daughter carries on the tradition when she has a family.

So creativity comes in all shapes and sizes–and doesn’t always look the same, depending on which glasses you have on. I have to trust that creativity will find me every December, and know that there’s still some creative juice in me the rest of the year. It just might not look like something tangible–but rather something my audience and I can look at on the computer screen.


MotherHustle panelist Abby Herman is a content strategist and content coach for small business owners, helping to get her clients’ written message out to their audience, in their own voice and on their own terms. She specializes in working with female-owned, service-based businesses to generate ideas and strategies that help to move their businesses forward with content that attracts the perfect clients. Abby firmly believes in the power of educating and empowering business owners so they can grow their businesses without breaking the bank. Community over competition is truly her jam!

When she’s not crafting words or coaching her clients through their own writing roadblocks, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in Phoenix or finding new ways to get her teenaged daughter to take a break from the school books and technology. You can follow her on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

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