Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gifts of the season

On Monday, those fine folks over at Unicorn Bell posted a request for submissions. The topic? A gift we have either given or received, doesn't have to be Christmas.

Of course I had to write something...

So here's my gift, and it's 100% true!

Since my Nana died a couple months ago, and it's actually her birthday today, or was her birthday I suppose... I'm thinking a lot about her this Christmas season. That horrible doll was the first gift I remember receiving from her, and last night while the husband and I decorated the Christmas tree, I was flooded with memories as I pulled out a number of hand-painted porcelain Christmas ornaments she had given me over the years. I took a picture of a couple:

Now, these are merely trinkets, nothing like her bigger, more detailed work, which is still all wrapped up carefully in boxes downstairs. But these were also made for me... notice the leprechauns? I've got about 6 different leprechaun ornaments on my tree... so she painted a green hat/scarf on the snowman and found the little leprechaun ornament specifically because she knew I'd like them. The bell on the left is from when she first started china painting and if you look carefully, you can see the date. I cut my name out of the picture, which unfortunately also cuts out half of the painted scene. The snowman was one of the last things she painted before her eyesight was too poor to paint, and it's from 2006.

I've also spent the last week or so cleaning out the basement in preparation of receiving a truckload of her paints, brushes, and boxes of raw, unpainted porcelain.

In the case of my Nana, I suppose not only her gifts of painted pieces, but her gift of teaching me to paint will be carried on in some fashion. No doubt next Christmas season some of my family members will receive ornaments or some other such pieces painted by my hand instead of hers.

Do you guys have any specific/special traditions in your family?


  1. That is such a wonderful story. Thanks so much for sharing, very touching. Her work looks marvelous.

    I started, this year, what I hope will be a tradition of making 2 to 4 personalized ornaments. I'm not the most artistic person in the world, but I don't mind making a mess in the name of fun with my daughter.

  2. I suppose the only thing that has been passed down in my family is cooking - every holiday, doing a lot of baking from scratch. And other than decorating the tree together, most of our traditions dissolved over time.

    In a way, it is kind of nice - since I have a new family and new traditions forming. It makes it less sad to have to move on from what used to be.

    But I still have two stuffed animals from my grandmother, she passed away a few years back. Those were the only things I wanted - as I played with them every year as a little kid. They stay on my bookshelf and don't move, even when the holidays are over. I keep them out, always.

  3. This is so very lovely. I'll look forward to seeing pictures next year as you carry on the tradition.

  4. your nana was very talented. And she shared a birthday with my sister.

  5. What a lovely idea, that should keep the family tradition going. We just have cooking traditions. Great ball shaped Christmas puddings ;)

  6. @ Angela

    How did the ornaments turn out? I think having fun is the most important thing when you're creating anything artistic :) Well, I think finding enjoyment in what you're doing is always the most important thing. Creating new traditions is also wonderful thing :)

    @ RA Desilets

    That's very nice you have those stuffed animals :) I have a stuffed cow that still stays on the bed that I've had since I was 13, though it has nothing to do with my grandmother ;) What kind of baking do you do? My husband and I have also started new holiday traditions, well, I have converted him to some of mine :) ...and, I made a load of pizzelle cookies this year (italian cookies, sort of half-way between a waffle and a sugar cookie), so I suppose I've adopted some of his as well ;)

    @ Sarah

    I've got a couple pieces from a few years ago, when she re-taught me a few of the basics... but they are mostly just playing around. I painted a bird and a plate with koi, but they were only fired once, so nothing complete. If I find them, I'll post a picture, but they're nothing great.

    My grandfather already picked out a vase he wants me to paint as a gift for him. It's... more ornate than something I would choose based on my own personal tastes, but I already have an idea of what I'll do with it. Must practice a lot first ;)

    @ prerna pickett

    Thanks :) I think so too! ...and a belated happy birthday to your sister :) Older or younger?

    @ Elaine AM Smith

    Wow! Christmas pudding! British grandmother makes a pudding every year, but since I have an insurmountable hatred of raisins, I can't say I've ever eaten it, which is pretty sad, I do admit. Maybe next year I'll give it a go...


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