Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Traditions



This is our Christmas Tree. It came from Canadian Tire, on sale for $11.00. That's not seen as it's still fresh and thirsty. When I was a little girl, I remember crawling under the big (they are huge when you are three) spruce tree and looking up at all those gorgeous lights and ornaments. I believe this is a memory shared by many who celebrate Christmas. The choice of tree-spruce, decorated with blown-glass ornaments was a tradition carried over from my parents native Germany. When they were growing up, trees were lit by candles. My mother still had a set, tiny aluminum candle holders that clipped horizontally on the branch of the tree with equally diminutive white candles. My mother would also fondly reminisce of the times (yes, plural) when her mother's tree would catch fire and get thrown through the living room window.
I'm using LED's. I choose warm white in some effort to recreate the soft glow of a tree lit by candles alone, a sight I've never myself seen and probably never will as I have no desire to toss a burning tree through a window. I do, however, have the candle clips stored carefully away. Some day I may get brave, and light a few for a few nerve-wracking minutes--a thing my mother did for me a handful of times in my life.
Also gathering dust is a sixty year old plaster nativity set, also from Germany. My reasons for setting these aside is somewhat more complex. I was raised a catholic, and as child was devout (I actually sent myself to Sunday school) but too many questions and contradictions remained unanswered. I say this not to argue religion but to explain why I leave an heirloom gathering dust, when attached to it are the most beautiful memories. Sometime in early December, my father would take me on a drive North. This was directly North of my childhood home (Pickering) and not just coincidentally much closer to place I live now. He'd stop by the side of the road and we would nip in to the woods to gather green moss. This became green grass and bedding for the nativity stable, a creche built by my father with finger width logs of birch. My mother would then assemble all together, and attach lights, (not candles!) under the 'roof' of the barn. There was always extra attention given to the proper illumination of the infant and the angel as if it was some fantastic theatre. The adoring cow and mule where my favourites, but not by far, as there was so much else to look at. I also was completely fascinated by the three kings, done up in great detail and representing three races of humanity. Every figurine was sculpted and painted with the kind of talent and detail no longer available, each figurine a work of art. When I think back to this nativity scene, one of the major themes was one of acceptance. The animals given a place of honour, women respected, children adored, the human race in harmony. I hope on Christmas day that I can hold this message honestly in my heart.
So for those who've wondered, you can wish me a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Joyful Eid, or Winter Soltice and I will be more than happy. In fact, anything but the banality of Season's Greetings will do.
Have a wonderful Yuletide All!

And in keeping with this being an art blog; the cardinal is acrylic paint on chicken egg. It is twenty years old.

5 comments:

krummholz said...

Merry Christmas! We have a spindly little balsam fir, but it is clad in beautiful ornaments, and multi-colored lights (which I've always liked better than the more "tasteful" white lights), and it radiates all kinds of holiday joy. Old family ornaments and decorations have many wonderful sentimental sediments.

Cat-in-a-Box said...

We have a makeshift tree this year - no kids in the household and we don't have $11 trees here! Someday we'll again have a huge pine (I've always been a pine girl, not that firs and spruce aren't great too!).

Ah the days of Canadian Tire. We lived in the US for over 2 years before we somehow got rid of the indissoluble Canadian Tire money!! Now I kind of miss it!

Chrissy said...

Wishing the very same to you :) The cardinal is beautiful. Perhaps it is just me but I do think holding the spirit in you heart is more important than which religeon you may or may not follow. Your nativity sound beautiful, I think I would have to have it out anyway but guess it is one of those things that you need to protect.

Jan said...

What a lovely post!

kaslkaos said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing all your traditions.
I just checked "Jan's" blog and she has a showcase of favourite ornaments! Neat!
Cat-in-a-Box, trees here are usually at least $30, but by the time I bought mine they were trying to get rid of it. Ps. if you have any Can.Tire money stashed away, I'm here! Love it. Did you ever save up $20 worth and hand it to a clerk on a busy day?
Krummholz, I love the multi-coloured lights, just never went back after my dad said the whites reminded him of home. We put multi's in the window to make up for it.
Chrissy, maybe next year I'll get the nativity out. If I'm still blogging, I'll have people to show it off to!
I guess by now, I'll have to say, have a Happy New Year!

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