Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Tyranny of Tinsel

From Monday to Saturday each week I read the comic strips in the local paper. I have a huge admiration for the artists who keep their strips going day after day, month after month, year after year. One of my favourites is "Cul de Sac" by Richard Thompson, a family saga featuring a repressed, nerdy little boy and his little sister, who has a Type A personality and no inhibitions at all. In a recent strip, when preparations for Christmas were getting going, the boy stuck a tatty bit of last year's tree trim on the ceiling, and called it his "Tinsel of Damocles." This inspired phrase has kept me company since the moment I read it. Essentially, it encapsulates the same sentiments as I expressed in my painting "A Long Wait" (please see last month's post). The sad fact is that apart from the few years when my children were children and I had to be a closet Santa Claus, I am not very good at Christmas. My malaise started the year I moved to Canada. In December I went to California to visit some family connections, not quite blood relations, with whom my grandmother had exchanged the occasional letter. On Christmas Eve, I of the iron stomach suffered an acute and embarrassing attack of nausea. Fortunately I recovered quickly enough to enjoy the turkey dinner the next day, but for several years after that I came down with some ailment just in time for Christmas. Usually it was a streaming cold or a digestive upset, but one year it was a full-blown flu that hit just as I got home with a mountain of festive food, none of which I could even look at.

In recent years my seasonal indisposition has taken the form of the November blahs (again, see last month) and an ostrich-like denial that Christmas will ever come at all. This is accompanied by a slump in my energy level, which is never too elevated in the first place. Then, at the last minute, the mood lifts and I suddenly spring into action, sending off cards, shopping like crazy just when most things have sold out, and putting up a few token lights and decorations. Oddly enough, and touch wood, the physical ailments are a thing of the past, and I have no trouble enjoying Christmas when it actually arrives.

This year my "tinsel of Damocles" has had an extra strand dangling ominously over my head: the weighty responsibility of having to write a blog post. I know no one's festivities are going to be wrecked if my readers don't hear from me--they're probably much too busy to care--but my own self-respect requires that I deliver on the promise I made last month to write a new instalment mid-December. And here I am, well past the mid-point of the month, still procrastinating. The trouble is that, since starting this blog since February, I have already written about most of my inventory of paintings, or at any rate those that have stories associated with them. So perhaps it's time for the blog either to end, or to evolve into more of an ongoing journal about what I do in the studio.

While I think about this question, I'm signing off for 2011 with a painting done earlier this year. It's the one I'm using this year as my paper Christmas card, and comes to all my readers with my best wishes for Christmas etc. and 2012, and with my heartfelt thanks for your support and encouragement of both my painting and my blogging efforts.

First Snow - acrylic - 24" x 18" - 2011

Next blog post? We'll see!