For a long time I wanted a Nativity scene, and several years ago I suddenly realized I might make one myself from stuffed wool felt. My delusional scheme was to create one figure each Advent until we would eventually have a vast elaborate setup resembling the creches of Italy and Provence and the angel tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Except in wool felt.
However, once I had completed the Holy Family, a donkey, a shepherd, and a sheep, and my husband had built a stable from branches and a lovely fragment of bark (thanks, Leah!), the time available for handwork had pretty much evaporated, aside from necessities like sock-mending and the occasional Halloween costume. Perhaps one day…
I wish you all a joyful, loving, and peaceful Christmas.
First paper cutouts, now dough…you must think I’ve forgotten how to draw.
Today is All Saints Day, also known as Día de los Muertos in Latin American countries. For the last several years our homeschooling Spanish class has celebrated this day together. We set up a table and decorate it with autumn flowers and leaves, papel picado, and photographs and mementos of those who have crossed over (parents, grandparents, pets, anyone beloved). My daughter and I bake a huge anise-flavored Pan de Muerto—a skull surrounded by bones. The mother who teaches Spanish reads aloud a story about the day, written from a child’s point of view. We all sing “Hasta los Muertos Salen a Bailar” (“Even the Dead are Rising Up to Dance”) which is a really hard song to stop singing all day long once you’ve sung a few rounds. Then each family comes to the table, lights a candle, and says a few words about their loved ones, and the festival concludes with a skull-and-bones snack. Although the children devour the bread with enthusiasm, I think they actually appreciate the entire event, especially as each year brings more shared losses into our lives.
Here’s an art form I don’t use too often but which comes in handy for large-scale decorating in a hurry—big white paper cutouts. This is our frightening Halloween front door, featuring the ghost family: Dad with mini-version of boat he is building; Sis with energetic jump-rope; Bro with faithful iPhone; Mom with paintbrush and spoon; and the world’s least scary Dog, unless you fear relentless licking.
Here are a painting and sketches of my son when he was around 2 or 3 years old, when he could count among his achievements succesful potty training and looking adorable.
Today he turns 26 (!!!) and still looks adorable (still potty trained too). He’s also a more sociable party guest than as depicted in this old sketchbook (although somewhere along the way he lost his Mess Detector). Besides this he is funny and smart and a wonderful writer; speaks Japanese fluently, which is useful in his work for Japanese television; is a cool painter; is sweet to his parents, generous to his friends, and a fabulous big brother to his little sister. Happy Birthday, dear Devin, and thank you for coming.