Over the years we have simplified our Christmas traditions to a table top tree and no gifts, stockings only. Thinking back to more frenzied times, I have an appreciation for those working families who maintain the cultural expectations and customs. I don't know how you do it. Christmas aside, like all retirees I know, I don't know how I had time for life while working full time, hardly able to fit in everything in now, without the job.
I lie. I did ask for a practical early Christmas gift, a 13.5" cast iron pan as my current non-stick one was peeling at a dangerous rate and I was tired of replacing them. Trouble is, it weighs 7.5lbs, and there's no shuffling of the food with an elegant tilting of the pan and flick of the wrist without risk of significant injury. Considering my wrists, what was I thinking? It is now a permanent fixture on top of the stove, a form of kitchen art. It is getting used, then slid back onto the stove after washing, as there is going to be no lifting of that behemoth in and out of the pot and pan drawer.
There was a fun deadline for this holiday season, a painting commission for a house portrait. Still standing, it was built in the 1600's in Quebec, and was inhabited by her many times great grandparents who raised 14 children in the house. We combined aspects of three photos of the house, old and current, changed the season to fall, and came up with this:
The real house, magnificently renovated, is currently for sale for $529,000 CDN, beautifully perched above the St. Lawrence River. I love doing house paintings and learning about the building's history and the people who lived there.
Much of the painting planning process was done while listening to my favourite CBC radio in the background. There was a talk show regarding Christmas traditions and one mom shared her family gifting formula. Four presents: something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. That simplifies things a bit. I might add something hand painted to hang on the wall ;-)