I don't quite prescribe literally to this definition. Within the context of this post title lies my own personal measure of the term... and my feelings surrounding its meaning and presence in my own life. While I do admittedly embrace a healthy respect for the past, I choose not to live in it... or be governed by it. I have painfully learned over the course of my own journey that tradition has its place. But that it should be pliable enough to offer new "possibility" in one's life for the enjoyment of it in the Present... and Hope ... for the future.
The tradition(s) of celebrating Christmas, above all other Christian rituals creates the greatest sphere of influence for nostalgia within our lives. From home decorating... through to carol singing... card sending leads right up to the gifts around the tree and the sit down Christmas turkey dinner... nostalgia grips all of us in similar fashion. Christmas too encourages a yearning for those we have lost .Christmas is a time fully dedicated to childhood and for many... childhood lies quite distantly in the Past... Nostalgia!
For many reasons, until most recently, Christmas was always a difficult season for me. The celebration of Christmas always seemed to be that single moment in the year... when the disparity between the fortunes of the "haves" and "have nots" eclipsed any feelings of "glad tidings" in my own heart. In our family, since my maternal grandparents created and taught us to celebrate Christmas... generosity through sharing with others has always a part of our tradition.
Individuals whom we met during our daily lives who would be alone at Christmas were offered a place setting at our Christmas table. Simple acts of charity were quietly offered to bring "Christmas cheer" to those whom Christmas offered little prospect of providing warmth and happiness. To this day, this part of Christmas remains more meaningful to me than the receiving of gifts. In practising "giving"... through small, simple acts of kindness and unexpected gifting, I find a truer sense of meaning beyond the commercialism that is thrust upon us by societal influence.
These unexpected gifting and simple acts of kindness can take many forms. Volunteerism is one source. Visits to those who cannot get out is another. Small unexpected gifts... such as a Christmas card requires only sitting down... writing and sending it. An unexpected Merry Christmas to a passing stranger can add warmth to the world we travel in daily. One's time can be a powerful and meaningful source for giving... and each of us has a larder to draw from.
I will always choose to celebrate Christmas in the manner in which I was taught. Those traditions reflect my healthy remembrance of "Those"... who first taught me about the true meaning of Christmas. However, each year I try to add to tradition by creating and adding something new and unexpected. I try to "pass forward" something new to add to what was before.
All families are finding themselves increasingly strung out far and wide. For many... it is virtually impossible for all family members to return "Home". We must devise ways to retain connection and to keep our family circles unbroken. Here is my new tradition... just launched... hopefully upon a lifetime trajectory of annual Christmas journeys into a "universe" of Christmases that I shall perhaps never see, or be present to celebrate. Or will "I"... at least in spirit?
"River Spirit of Christmas" - oil on canvas 20x16 inches
This whimsical painting subject... though out of character for my painting "style"... embodies within in it so many aspects of my journey and my approach to living. Building snowmen with childhood pals and all of my children lives in this subject. So does the powerful spirit of this River that I have been blessed to have been raised on and lived on for the greater part of my life... is the very core of my "Being". The natural and unparalleled beauty of "Manitouana" continues to drive my artistic imagination. It as well offers "Me" a state of inner peace and contentment... and in a single word... the greatest blessing that an artist can retain... or have bestowed upon him or her - Wonder!
I believe that through living my life in this fashion... I have created an "extended" family of five highly unique and creative children. But just as importantly to "Me"... I have created five children who go out into life daily willingly sharing their generous spirits. And for this gift... I am exceedingly joyful - and proud!
"River Spirit of Christmas" has been placed in the hands of my daughter Allison for its first Christmas stay. Ironically... it will be within her home and will be sharing another 1st Christmas event. Our newest grandchild, Wee Malcolm Justin Michael Sherman will most likely celebrate part of his first Christmas with family there. His father, Andrew will "have custody" for the painting for next year's celebration after Allison's year own short term "ownership".
Was there ever a more beautiful... and puckish elf in Santa's Workshop? One more beauty... to join the other three Sherman "Elves".. Ryan, Mica and Braden! Great adventures ahead Andrew and Melissa... much Joy and memorable Christmases to come! You are fortunate Wee Mac... to have been delivered into these two capable sets of hands. They adore you so... and I know already... will always "have your back". You will be a great Santa Andrew!!!... Get a good suit! This guy will be equally hard to hood-wink and bamboozle! HA HA!!!
Its passage to the next recipient late in 2015 will require that the two share time, or a meal to create the opportunity to pass it along. My "Hope" is that this painting will form the mucilage which will bind our family together in love and true Christmas Spirit... for years to come. It journey has at least begun safely. I have done my part. "Time"... will be the final critic to its true success.
I have used the image for my "annual"... my Christmas Card gift to family and friends who have shown me love and generosity on my journey. I have almost completed my sizable list. The writing process takes me a while because I add a Christmas "cartoony" ink rendering coloured with pencil crayon to the envelope of each. Many of my friends have a rather large collection arranged upon their walls or on view throughout their homes each Christmas. Christmases passed... remembered!
Here is an "eclectic mix" of my Christmas "toons" - Couldn't resist.. HA! HA!
Here is Allison's 2014 Card. Symbolically "Me" and "Mr Peter Penguin"... one of Allison's many childhood alter egos... who refuse to disappear. May they live on... in our hearts forever Allison!
They are indeed... "priceless"... or rather "price-less" because they are true gifts offered from "Me".with no price attached. They simply offer my humble gratitude to those who are amongst my greatest life blessings to recognize and reward them for their gifts.
In my mind..."Tradition" need not be viewed as static. It can become a living thing... if one chooses to add to it with purpose and creative thought. In so doing, it remains a healthy force which encourages growth and makes it timeless... and less likely to be set aside and forgotten. Create your own tradition for Christmas. "build yourself a snowman"...and share it within your world.
In closing out this post...it seems appropriate that the intended joy of "River Spirit" be sent out to many more Friends through this marvellous blog medium - to those Friends that I have yet to physically meet. Your continual presence and encouragement continue to inspire me to share my thoughts and "dreamings" with a much broader audience of artists.
May your lives be richer in spirit. May your imaginations remain fertile catalysts in 2015 for new works that make the world a better place to live in. My sincere gratitude for your loyalty and honesty.
Merry Christmas... and Good Painting... to ALL!!!