Friday, November 26, 2010

A Village Painted With Tears

Today we pack away all things orange and bring out all things red and green!  Our napkin holder with bright orange napkins tells me so.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we Christians focus on Christmas and the meaning of the birth of the Baby Jesus.  The Nativity, or creche, or crib, is the sweet reminder of the story told in the gospels.  There are countless different nativity scenes available, some with the Magi, shepherds, and other stable animals.  A few years back a friend of mine signed up for a drawing, and she won the complete Willow Tree Nativity set.  What a beautiful thing to win, and I can only imagine the joy it brings to their home each Christmas.

A Peek at Winter Harbor, Maine
 Back in 2001, following a tragic death in our family, I worked my way through a horrible sadness by painting a Christmas village.  I remember coming home from the office so weary I felt like collapsing, changing into sweat pants and sweatshirt, and forcing myself to sit at the kitchen island with bottles of acrylic paints and tiny-tipped paint brushes.  Brush strokes, along with the tears of my sorrow, eventually gave color to 25 village pieces, including a music store, donut shop, pet store, tea houses, a bakery, library, a country church, a school, and a neighborhood of mansions where the financially wealthy people could live.  One Christmas while we were setting the village up, the ice cream parlor and one of the houses accidentally fell and broke, leaving 23 pieces. 

Every year since when I shop for Christmas presents, I can't resist searching for more characters to put in my village and accessories to bring imaginary activity to Winter Harbor, Maine.  We made an ice skating pond out of a mirror, have skaters and one little fellow putting his skates on, and around the pond we arranged small rocks that I brought home with me from my last trip to Maine.  A lighthouse blinks its beckoning light, all the houses and stores are lighted, and when it gets dark in the evening, even now we're still amazed at what a broken spirit and a bleeding heart was able to do.

Today's Trivia:  St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 at Greccio, Italy, in an attempt to place the emphasis of Christmas upon the worship of Christ rather than upon secular materialism and gift giving.  Staged in a cave near Greccio, St. Francis' nativity scene was a living one with humans and animals cast in the Biblical roles.