December 21, 2015 by Julia
I gather up art after my work is done for the evening. It’s my current favorite quiet activity, what I do to calm and feed myself. I go on Pinterest and dive down the various rabbit holes of whimsy and wonder. I like deciding if a piece truly speaks to me – and then which aspect of the art speaks loudest to me. Is it the expression in the face, or the beauty of the brushstrokes?
“Wintersonne ” 1913 Leo Putz
I categorize them in totally subjective ways, just for myself: Color and Feel, Portraits, Meaningful Images, Magical, Animals, Fun, Homes and Places, Pretty, Nature.
The Secret Garden, Julia Sarda
Holidays also compel me to search out poetry – more than any other time of year. (By the way, I found this great resource in my search – The Poetry Foundation.)
“December 26.” © 2001 by Kenn Nesbitt. Reprinted from The Aliens Have Landed at Our School! (© 2001, 2005 by Kenn Nesbitt)
Some of this collecting is my effort to feel the way I’m supposed to feel on Christmas…which I say with much hesitation, as someone who does not enjoy forced cheer. I don’t think we should scold ourselves when we feel too busy to “savor the moments,” or feel guilty for darkened moods around the holidays. Many of us have good reason to feel these emotions. But maybe it’s okay to also seek out the things about holidays that do make us happy. There’s nothing wrong with reeling the Christmas spirit back into ourselves, the best way we know how.
The things I most enjoy about Christmas have a sacred air: voices joined in old songs, the hush of snow falling in woods, a flickering candle in my hand, the upper reaches of darkened cathedrals, lights in windows, seen from outside. I think of baking, and the sweetness of having a family to share gifts with.
And I keep reaching for some possibly unattainable Christmas Eve where I am not tired.
But you know what? It’s not so bad to be tired on Christmas Eve. I keep forgetting that we can enjoy imperfect things, too. I mean, duh.
Perfection is not the goal. Any artist will tell you perfection is not real, it’s boring, it’s stale.
The dripping wax from the candle in my hand may burn me for a second, but it brings home the warmth. It seals the radiant image of the candle in my memory.
So I do my best to accept the tiredness as just another shadow that lends depth to the light.
And continue to gather up things that make me happy. Because it’s the acceptance of reality alongside the hoping and learning and trying that makes things okay, I think.
I send this post to you like a greeting card, with the belief that whatever brings us comfort or peace or even transcendence during this hectic holiday season is worth our time.
You Matter to Me from Sara Bareilles’ new album,”What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress.” I’ve been listening to the whole album on repeat – it’s gorgeous and fun and heartfelt. Bareilles wrote the songs for the new musical Waitress, which is based on the lovely movie by the same name (which was released in 2007, starring Keri Russell), a movie I SO adore. I can’t take cheesiness, but I do love down-to-earth romance. The above song has been stuck in my head, and I must say…it’s a good message to hear on repeat.
December 24, 1971
Joseph Brodsky, “December 24, 1971” from Collected Poems in English, 1972-1999. Copyright © 2000 by Joseph Brodsky. Reprinted by permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc.
Source: Collected Poems in English, 1972-1999 (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2000)
Found at The Poetry Foundation.
I am loving the warm, folksy vibe of this new Christmas album by Elizabeth Mitchell, who is a favorite among many parents for her non-annoying children’s music.
Joy to the World, by Elizabeth Mitchell from The Sounding Joy: Songs In and Out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook
Edmund Dulac – The Snow Queen, found here
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Sufjan Stevens
(A Christmas Circular Letter)
Dennis and I had the privilege of seeing the Morgan State University Choir’s Christmas concert last Friday evening. I’d been wanting to see it for years, and finally just bit the bullet and bought tickets. The choir sings a range of musical genres, from classical to spirituals, reggae, jazz and gospel. One of my favorite things in music is when people are really feeling it, which is why gospel is possibly my favorite kind of live music.
This gospel arrangement of the Hallelujah Chorus gave me happy chills on Friday night. This is not a recording of what we saw, but it is recent. I wish the audio were better, and I wish you could’ve been there at the Christmas concert, because like I said – there is no substitute for live gospel music. It was like a party.
Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration, performed by Morgan State University Choir.
“December Substitute.” © 2005 by Kenn Nesbitt. Reprinted from When the Teacher Isn’t Looking (© 2005 by Kenn Nesbitt) with permission from Meadowbrook Press.
Source: When the Teacher Isn’t Looking (2005)
I’ve always enjoyed this carol’s tune, but never thought much about the lyrics. They are beautiful – full of kindness and vivid imagery.
Good King Wenceslas
Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!