Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas at Home

The holidays are upon us (how did that happen!) and it's time to get out the Christmas decorations. We always enjoy the tradition of buying our Christmas tree from Billy Romp on Jane Street. We pick out the tree and Billy delivers it and we sit and have a glass of wine and catch up on the year.

Our Christmas decorations are largely white and green with a little pale color; it's soothing and calming. At the end of living room we have an Empire table that belonged to my great grandmother in upstate New York. At Christmas it gets a holiday make over. Holidays bring up a lot of memories and this table is loaded with them.

Last year after my father passed away, five years after my mother, I couldn't get this stuff out but this year I did. Over the table where we usually hang an oil portrait goes a Christmas figure that my mother painted when I was young –

In Utica, New York, my creative mother liked to go to our museum, the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute, where members could borrow paintings on a rotating basis. When I was a boy I enjoyed going with her and we would thumb through the available paintings. At Christmas she chose holiday scenes but one year she decided to paint her own. This was from a postcard or picture she saw, and it's sweet with a green and white scheme, and red ribbon and holly berries.
On the table sits a gingerbread house that I made out of clay in high school as a gift  –

I can't remember where I got this idea but I made it in my high school art class, building the house out of clay, firing it in the kiln and painting it, complete with an "Antiques" sign over the front door. My father put a little light bulb inside it and my mother got it out every Christmas. When my parents passed away their home was emptied and this gingerbread house was left behind but my very smart sister-in-law Tracy rescued it for me for which I'm very grateful.

The table was itself, I was told, given to my great grandmother, Bessie Crinnion, and great grandfather, Dan O'Donnell from Sligo, Ireland, on their wedding day in 1886 at 611 West German Street in Herkimer, NY. I really like its shape and how you can see the silhouette of it at the end of the room. On top of it sit other gifts and favorite objects. 

My great grandfather Dan O'Donnell was a railroad engineer in Herkimer and we have his big wooden tool chest on an adjacent wall in the living room, also in a dark brown color but it is rough and rugged. I like how my great grandparents' pieces are similar and different.

My mother created the painting and years later I made the house but they go together and share a sensibility. I love having these family mementos, which speak to me, together in a corner of our apartment. It's pretty too at the end of the day when it gets dark and the light fades –

I hope you are enjoying the season and I am wishing you and yours very happy holidays, merry Christmas and a happy new year!