So iI started this on Christmas Eve, but it took me so long to stop and play Santa that I'm still not done writing...and now it's Christmas Day afternoon and I'm still writing in between laughing with my kids and siblings, and eating one more helping of homemade cinnamon rolls.
I've been reflecting quite a bit this season on the birth of Jesus Christ, since that's what Happy Holidays means for me. Like most Christians, I have no misconceptions that Jesus was born on December 25th. I get the political and figurative relevance of having Christmas coincide with Sol Invictus. Also, I was always taught that for shepherds to be abiding in the fields with their flocks, the time of year was probably March. But since we have no clear consensus on the date he was born, and the important thing for Christians is just to have a time to commemorate his coming to earth... well then the traditional date is just fine by me!
All my Catholic friends at work gave me a hard time for putting Jesus in the manger in my little nativity scene at my desk... telling me that traditionally he shouldn't be present until today, the 25th. But since I like most things complete... and I wasn't raised Catholic... I just put him in the manger right off the bat. I decided to give my friends a nod, however, and refrain from this little journal post until today, so that it actually starts off the twelve days of Christmas, and can stay up until the Wise Men show up at the Epiphany in January.
I started this painting years ago. It's watercolor, and is quite large (30x42 inches), and took me forever to complete. I had spent some time on the concept during the Atlanta Passion Play at the Atlanta Civic Center. I was probably playing either Judas or John the Beloved at the time...I like extremes. I had friends pose for the Angel and the Holy Family, and used some live lambs from a Temple scene for those in the painting. I remember thinking I wanted to imply the star with the shafts of light, and to imply a halo for Mary with the crook of Joseph's staff. As for Joseph himself, I had the idea that he was sleeping and Mary was taking a quiet, private moment to enjoy her new son.
I loved painting the Angel... a close friend was playing one in the play, and I loved the costume... miles of gauzy white that we draped all over scaffolding behind a scrim to give a misty, mysterious quality. I had an idea for a beautiful golden harp, and so I posed him for my painting as a quiet being playing a celestial lullaby for the new king.
As we move into the New Year, I pray for God's blessings on all of you...and that your year is filled with all the wonder and beauty that is present in the nativity!