Christmas time is creative time. For centuries the birth of the Christ child was the main subject of art in all its forms. Not only were people eager to celebrate their religious beliefs, they also wanted to step away from the drudgery of work and the harshness of winter. Christmas might have been lighted by candles and fires centuries ago, but even today the art of Christmas breaks through the darkness and repetitiveness of life, filling us humans with wonder and giving us pleasure. The art of Christmas, no matter what your faith or spiritual life, is how we remember the light of the world, the lift in our hearts, the reason for love and goodness.
Who hasn’t written a Christmas verse or created a Christmas joke. At this time of year shops and stores are teeming with creative endeavors to remember the season: poetry books, novels and plays; ceramics adorned with the color and images of the season. Children make gingerbread houses or fold paper into decorative chains. Mothers and fathers bake fantasies–cookies and breads, cakes and bars. There’s the busy provider who even finds time to break away from work to hang sparkling lights everywhere and to bring home an evergreen tree or maybe a sled to make snow enjoyable. It’s all the art of Christmas.
Here are a few of my standouts–art that brings tears to my eyes, underlining not only the beauty of the season, but the love and creativity in the hearts and minds of the artists.
In 1978 English author Raymond Briggs wrote and illustrated THE SNOWMAN which became a favorite adventure story for the holiday season. In 1982 the book became an animated film. Millennials and their parents all hold visions of James flying with the snowman as the music by Howard Blake makes your heart soar. See it here.
We’re walking in the air
We’re floating in the moonlit sky
The people far below are sleeping as we fly
I’m holding very tight
I’m riding in the midnight blue
I’m finding I can fly so high above with you
Far across the world
The villages go by like dreams
The rivers and the hills
The forests and the streams
Children gaze open mouth
Taken by surprise
Nobody down below believes their eyes
We’re surffing in the air
We’re swimming in the frozen sky
We’re drifting over icy
Mountain floating by
Suddenly swooping low on an ocean deep
Arousing of a mighty monster from its sleep
We’re walking in the air
We’re floating in the midnight sky
And everyone who sees us greets us as we fly.
The Night Before Christmas, The Polar Express, A Christmas Carol, The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are all memorable stories for the season.
A favorite of mine is A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. You can watch a short film interpretation of the story here. The following is the last page of the story:
Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang “Cherry Ripe,” and another uncle sang “Drake’s Drum.” It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird’s Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.
At this time of year, music is heard everywhere and for each of us, certain songs or carols are sweetly-sharp reminders of who we loved and maybe who we’ve lost. The Gian Carlo Menotti opera Amahl and the Night Visitors is a remembrance of my mother. And so is the song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. There are tears when I hear:
Through the years we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
Though we hold dear all these examples of the art of Christmas–it’s the hug from a grandchild, the kiss from a spouse, the kind phone call from an adult child who won’t be physically present and the thoughtful gifts, no matter what they are, that truly are the art of Christmas. So when snow flakes begin to fall in your hair or lights from a tree shine in your daughter’s eyes or you hear the carols or the bells or the quiet darkness seeks you out–hold them close, remember them–for they light up our world that needs love and care, that needs more than ever a merry little Christmas.
Thanks to Pinterest and Google Images