Wednesday, December 28, 2011

'Tis the season to...?

When this season rolls around, we know it's time to be busy--I'm reminded of my third grade grammar lesson in superlatives: busy, busier, busiest.

All this hustle and bustle comes at just the time when the light and temperature (in the Northern hemisphere) beckon us to to slow down, bundle up, and brew pots of tea and tureens of soup.

Each year I'm challenged to find a way to keep my balance-not to get so busy that I neglect the beauty in gorgeous orange globes of pomegranates, the migrating birds, and the friendly faces of my family. This year, I noticed that if I just did what was in front of me, I was OK.

Of course that had me doing everything at the last minute: buying Hanukkah candles the final day the synagogue gift shop was open, wrapping my families' gifts the day I gave them, and waiting until the holidays were over to begin my cards.

I love getting holiday cards--the sense of that person's warmth from across state, elsewhere in the country, around the world, never ceases to move me. They take time to think about me and my family, to sustain our connection in spite of the urge to let go, because in these days of e-mail, facebook etc., it's all too much.

So I argue with myself--do I make the cards this year? Do I use Shutterfly to get one of those composite photographic documents of my family life? ( grown, still won't sit still.) I want to go be in the studio--so making the cards wins. I moan. Why can't I just keep it simple like most of the people I know who send cards? Then I realize that it's through their making that I feel  connected.

After a while, a rhythm and logic develop and a flotilla of delicate rice paper snowflakes emerges;  carefully glued on top of pieces of script.  I love pulling random pages from old books, foraged from library sales (an act which distresses my husband), and discovering some synchronistic pattern like Charles Dicken's ode to his Christmas tree from a 1920's book on elocution.

Snowflake flotilla, photo courtesy of Amelia McSweeny

I discover that in cutting and unfolding, the shape of a Jewish star emerges in the center of the flake, surrounded by a circle of tiny people reaching out towards each other.

The star reminds me of my Jewish grandmother's Christmas cards. These were cards that she sent out in the twenties and thirties to her non-Jewish friends and although they were sent as part of an attempt to assimilate into mainstream culture, I like to see them as a bridge between cultures, a way of creating and maintaining a connection.

My grandmother Caroline's Christmas card, circa 1925-1935

All of which takes me back the beginning; maintaining connection--and what better way to do this than through art?


  1. This is a lovely, thoughtful post, and your cards are beautiful. A very Happy New Year to you!

  2. Thank you Altoon--I wish you the very best in your art and life in this new year to come. Its all connected isn't it?

  3. Your cards are charming and reflect you connecting. I love the photo of them all standing in a row with assorted colors. Now New Years is ahead...Happy beginning 2012!

  4. These are beautiful Hannah! What I love is that it gave you a chance to make art in the middle of a very busy time. Helps me every time. Best wishes for a beautiful, happy and healthy New Year!

  5. Handmade cards, such a gift in themselves. They are beautiful and reflect the lovely spirit within their maker. Blessing for your new year, Hannah.

  6. Thank you Blue Sky--I like the line up too--a flotilla of flakes...

    I never thought of that Dianne--I know I felt a lot better after coming out of the studio last week.
    Want to get back in again too!

    I like the notion of a card as a gift in itself. Thank you Patty.

  7. Your cards are simply enchanting. I love the mystery, history and tradition that the Jewish culture embodies. I just watched an HGTV show where a New Jersey single Mom was moving back to her roots, to Tel Aviv. The one hundred year plus floor tiles in some of the homes the realtor took her to had me under their spell. Intricate patterns like your beautiful stars.

    « ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆ ★ ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆
    ╔╗╔╦══╦═╦═╦╗╔╗ ★ ★ ★
    ║╚╝║══║═║═║╚╝║ ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆
    ║╔╗║╔╗║╔╣╔╩╗╔╝ ★ NEW YEAR ☆ 2012
    ╚╝╚╩╝╚╩╝╚╝═╚╝ ♥¥☆★☆★☆¥♥ ★☆ ♥♥♥ »

  8. I love the way that your first jpeg expands itself into the wonderful march of your circle people/star/cards...really sweet and wonderful ...each one is a gift and you were able to be in the studio sinking into the beauty of the calming time of the year...tea within reach.

    Wise woman.

  9. What a beautiful post with heart felt sentiments of reaching across the miles to each other. Your snowflake cards are absolutely lovely, thank you for pointing out the star of David and little people...sweet. Thank you for the Hawaiian greetings too, love it!!

  10. Delightful cards Hannah! Wishing you all the best for 2012!

  11. Maddy--aren't those tiles amazing? I love looking at both the Islamic and Israeli ceramic traditions.

    Donna--thank you. I like your words: "tea within reach"--a part of my calming ritual.

    Beth--It's interesting--writing about the cards became another way to reach out--do you think blogs are like a series of condensed cards?

    Thank you Robyn--I wish you an art-full year too!

  12. your posts are filled with inspiration.. love the cards.. and happy new year to you!