I have something to admit: I’m kooky about Christmas. Maybe I don’t go as over-the-top with decorating as some do, but my kids could certainly tell you: I love this holiday more than others.
I suppose there are worse confessions in the world, but I have to say that while I think putting Christmas items up in stores the day after Halloween is a bit much, I secretly delight in seeing the Christmas season coming.
Since a part of my business is largely slanted towards Christmas, I actually begin creating my Christmas art in August. This gets incredulous comments from my kids, but I really do need a head start.
Much of my repertoire at this time of year focuses on making wood sculptures of Santas (new, old, beach, skiing) and snow people (with carrot noses, pencil noses, birds on their heads) and even snow angels. I also make a line of Christmas cards that are block printed by hand, with many different Christmas themes.
But, I think I love Santa the most. I partly have my mother to blame (in a good way). She made a magical ritual out of Christmas time with special evenings set aside to uncover the wrapped up ornaments and displays of nativities, playing Christmas music, and making her own special version of gingerbread men (you have to marry into my family to get the recipe). I still remember all the lovely creations: fragile balls hand-glittered and passed down from my grandmother; the little flying Santa and reindeers placed on a snow covering of cotton-baton; the gorgeous cheery-faced Santa from Germany that always had a prominent spot by the fireplace.
In fact, I believe I can trace my love of Santa back to this very treasure — picked up in the 1960s in a small town my parents fell in love with: Rothenburg, Germany, and transported carefully back to Calgary, Alberta. I loved this Santa so much that when my family travelled to Europe in the mid-70s, I brought all the money I earned from a year-long paper route to see if we could still find the same shop in Rothenburg that sold those beautiful Santas. We did find it, and I bought my first Santa at the age of 13.
Today, while I love the diversity of carving gnomes and chefs in addition to Christmas-themed wood sculptures, I have to say, that Old St. Nicholas is my absolute favorite, and many of my carvings tend to that Old World style: with sticks for a fire, a long white beard, a hood and bright colorful mittens. I don’t think — no, actually I know — I will nevr get over him.