The husband's parents moved to Texas from India in the 1960s-1970s. They are Hindu, and in fact were instrumental in founding the main Hindu temple in Pearland (south of Houston). When we were living in El Paso, I had a lot more spare time, and so I decided to make something for them.
Through the magic of the internet, I found a clip-art Ganesha (known to his family - South Indians - as Puliyar) and converted it to a cross-stitch pattern through some free-trial program. It was a lovely pattern, very clear, with specific DMC/Anchor threads listed, and so I set to work.
Lessons I learned:
1) it's self-torture to work on black cloth, as you can't see the holes.
2) if a pattern calls for 42 inches of floss, and you're using 2 strands together, you really only need 14 inches of six-strand floss. Yes, I bought enough floss for three projects.
3) there's a reason pattern designers get paid for their work, and it's not just putting clip art through pattern-creating programs. My pattern had 21 colors, and one showed up for just 2 stitches, and a few others would have one stitch every four inches or so. It's all gradations of blue/green/gray, so a human rather than a computer creating it would have made it much more stitching-friendly. (I did take over the 2-stitch color with another color.)
4) a large project on black cloth with 21 colors unintelligently designed will take longer than the 4 months until Christmas I promised myself. In fact, it will take around 2 years (conveniently, until the mother-in-law's 60th birthday party... which, to be a more effective surprise party, was thrown at a time of year nowhere near her birthday).
But they loved it, and the husband's dear grandmother takes such pride in showing it off to her friends, and they've installed it in a prominent position in their home, so I feel it was all worth it.
(sorry for the bad photo, it's reflective and this was taken during a party - that's me in pink in the reflection.)
Not worth it enough to do it again, though, even if I do have enough thread to make three.