Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Boy's Christmas Covenant

"Not a Creature Was Stirring..." - oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches  SOLD

The current
Christmas 2015 preps get underway...

The current weather and projections for the Christmas celebration just ahead closely mimic the Hillsdale landscape in my 2007 Christmas card theme. Just as the weather has see-sawed throughout December between the expected to the unseasonable... so do my thoughts... day-to-day during every Christmas season.

I find myself busied with preparations for the Christmas Present... yet predisposed to following decades old rituals that connect this 'boy" as far back as my early childhood. Let's call the concoction a "preserve" of sorts... anticipation pickled in nostalgia! AWB... the capital "R" Realist - Romantic!

Early Beginnings...

I was blessed to have had loving and creative parents who developed annual family rituals that began early and ran throughout the entire Christmas season. Christmas began in mid to late November when we headed out in search of chains of creeping cedar... used to create long chains to decorate staircase newel posts and rails... as well as the mantel of the... orange crate faux fireplace that we built with Mom's guidance.

The boy marveled at how real the red brick crepe paper looked with its crackling fire of birch logs and tissue paper flames... topped by a wooden plank mantel bedecked with sheets of white cotton snow... dotted with well placed imitation fir trees. All of this finery couched the ever-friendly village collection and of course...  a larger-than-life Santa and his string of white plastic coursers. Little wonder that my still fertile imagination still runs wild today. It was first planted... "way back when"...

Creche Creation and its significance...

Uncrating and creating the Nativity creche was a children's affair. All helped to put the various Christmas cast in place on the  long oval table that straddled our front living room window. New angels appeared in the heavenly skies each year. One year, I crafted a foiled star of the East to hover and keep watch on a thin strand of copper wire. Christmas carols were sung as the activity moved along... our favorites: O Little Town of Bethlehem... Silent Night... We Three Kings... Away in a Manger... Oh Come, All Ye faithful... Joy to the World

"While Shepherds... washed their socks by night ... all seated round the tub. The angel of the Lord came down and taught them how to scrub" delighted us gleefully each year... but drew the wrath of my Mom. I did catch her smiling quietly to herself though. Down deep inside... she knew that our family did indeed "put the Christ in Christmas"... reverently with Santa. That tradition continues with the same zeal in my house.

Spreading Simple Joy... via Canada Post

The Christmas card ritual was conducted by my Dad. The process stretched itself out methodically throughout the month of November and this first stage was dedicated to the sending process to all who responded in the previous year. The second half of the process involved transcribing this year's card senders onto the list for next year. Cards received were placed each Christmas in a wicker basket beside my Dad's chair... where they could be read and enjoyed over the Christmas season

In their declining years, it was obvious that the tradition could not be maintained by my Dad from their nursing care facility... though I had long followed my Dad's card tradition throughout my own adult journey... and in my own fashion. I offered to be the "ghost writer" for my Dad's Parkinsons- shackled hand.

It was a joyous activity which enabled their own participation and and personal contributions to friends still living in a world they could no longer be a part of... or reach out to. The memories from that venture linger in my heart... and refuel my own determination to keep the tradition alive in my own world. I still send the odd card out to remaining members of my Dad's card list. The beat goes on... and the sands of Time continue to drop in my own hour glass.

 Each card envelope has its own unique caricatured and colored and inked image

Some gently poke fun...

They are my way to recognize long friendships and shared experiences

Some even make use of the Christmas postage stamp to poke fun at Canada Post.

Each year I do question the use of my time to continue this practice in this fashion. I have watched people take the card out of the envelope... and without hesitation... crumple up the envelope ... and simply throw my gift (and my self-esteem) in the trash bucket. The temptation to simply "throw in the sponge" is great... momentarily. 

But then... I receive my "annual" simple card from Liam and Bryn's three aunts... aged 101... 97 and 94 expressing their joy... and thanks for receiving my annual card to each of them. Only Auntie Rose remains in her own home. Lil lives with her nephew and niece near Rose and Sis in in a nursing home... confined to bed and legally blind. How merry can that be? But in the face of these life -crippling losses, she remains... "merry and bright".

All of these magnificent elders retain their will to be included in Life... and a huge sense of gratitude for their life... family and friends. My card is a small gesture that our tie is still there... even after a separation that lead to tumultuous life change(s) for me personally. Do not treat success in isolation based upon a too small sampling. Love... Generosity... and Faith will always prevail.

Rose's envelope this year bears a message that is as eloquent as any decoration I could send. Its humble message touched my heart greatly... and speaks to the underlying principles which join us in love and friendship. The phrase very succinctly underscores my philosophy about the enjoyment of one's life.

Thank you dear Rose!... It is indeed the ability to "Delight in the little things...." that form Life's greatest daily blessings! Merry Christmas... once again to all three aunts!!!

"I"... am greatly blessed!

Keep your own covenants... whatever they may be. They will bring unexpected and overflowing Joy... and Glad Tidings to your door.

Good Painting... and Merry Christmas... to ALL!


  1. Beautiful traditions. I can't help feeling that the envelopes must brighten up the postal workers day too.

    A very merry and special Christmas to you and yours from all of us here. I look forward to 'seeing' you in the new year.

  2. Hello Lisa!... Yes... the cards do indeed attract the attention of the postal staff where they are mailed. I have heard that staff actually pull people together for a chuckle when they dig one from the mounds of Christmas mail to be sorted.

    Some friends who have been recipients of these cards actually have as well dedicated an entire wall to the whole collection that they have received over the thirty years that I have been sending them out. It is fun for everyone!

    Do have an especially Peaceful and Joyous Christmas with your loved ones Lisa. I too look forward to exciting visits to your special site as well.

    Merry Christmas... and Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Good morning Bruce. It must be wonderful to be a recipient of one of your personal Christmas cards, and in the true spirit of the original idea of sending a greeting. You must be well-organised though; by the time I start thinking about Christmas I only have time to send a printed card!

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with all your family.

    Best wishes,

  4. Good morning Keith!... Thank you for dropping by and for your greeting!

    I truly enjoy this tradition. It is my way to offer mt personal thanks to people in my life... past and present... who continue to matter to me. My journey ... and I'm sure yours have such unique individuals scattered far and wide. It is wonderful to reconnect each year at this special time.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family Keith.

    Warmest wishes,