Happy Birthday, Christian Courier! Isn’t it lovely how this aligns with Thanksgiving? A very fitting coincidence. In these days of counting our blessings and holding on, it’s wonderful to have a real celebration like this to mark. We may be restricted when it comes to physically sitting down at extended family tables this Thanksgiving, but this…
For five months now, we’ve sheltered-in-place and hoped that would beat the pandemic. We’re grieving our losses, braced for the next plot twist. It feels like we’ve left the literature section and entered science fiction. Headlines have an apocalyptic tone. “What is it all for?” Frodo, bone-weary with his burden, asks Sam in The Two Towers.
For me, Christmas will always mean baking. I grew up with a mom who made sure there were always homemade treats around, and Christmas meant triple the normal amount. I can recall so clearly my excitement when I saw Mom bring home the ingredients she’d be using over the next few weeks. One of my favourites was some sort of ball made with candied cherries, coconut and marshmallows. We also had mincemeat tarts, jam thumbprint cookies, pecan crescents, and (my dad and brother’s favourite) Scottish shortbread.
Christmas music fills the air. Lights sparkle on the Christmas trees of in each of the “Drumm girls’” homes. An enormous glass bowl full of fake fruit and vegetables sits in each home – carrots, lemons, metallic cucumbers, carved stone pears, crystal covered apples and more – the collection growing larger with each passing year. Each piece holds a memory. Each piece is a part of a Christmas tradition that began on December 24, 2002. Each piece is a memory of our mother.
The artist, Dr. He Qi studied at China’s Nanjing Art Institute and the Hamburg Art Institute in Germany. He was the first among Mainland Chinese to earn a Ph.D. in Religious art after the Cultural Revolution in 1992. His art works have been displayed in museums, galleries and churches around the world. He currently lives in Minnesota. The Chinese character in this painting means “good luck arrives,” often displayed upside-down (as it is here) on doorways in China to invite luck or happiness inside.
Strangely enough, I don’t have to look all that far to see buildings shaped exactly like the one standing just above the visual centre of this old painting. Just down the road in Orange City, Iowa, town fathers mandated long ago that any new business had to build to a code that’s drawn up from 16th century Holland. Silly, but cute.