November 17, 2012

Nostalgia in a Cabinet

Some people might think it's a bit early to be thinking about sending Christmas cards, but believe me, the way the weeks fly by around here it pays to at least try and begin the process, especially if I am going to make them myself. I have always tried to make my own Christmas cards, although some years I end up buying them because I simply run out of time after attending all the seasonal concerts and such that every parent knows are a part of having children in high school band, music lessons or any kind of performing art.I am determined to make cards for my friends and family this year, although the process will be simplified by the help of a pretty, seasonal rubber stamp that I picked up a few weeks ago at the Granville Island post office. The post office there sells a lot of lovely paper products and card making supplies, and is a bit less expensive than the beautiful Granville Island store, Paper-Ya.

Years ago I would draw a sort of 'slice of life' comic of my growing family, photocopy it onto cards, decorate them, insert a copy of our annual Christmas letter, and send them off. Several of our friends and family members looked forward to the cards and they became a tradition for a few years.

The first family comic I ever drew, back in 1995.
It's so old, the paper is yellowed. My husband had just
recovered from a bout of viral meningitis. Crikey!

We were in the middle of packing up to move to Strathcona Park Lodge,
and I was gearing up for a new adventure and lots of changes to come.

Last weekend, we spent a whole day rearranging some furniture in our house. In my quest for a china cabinet to hold our recently inherited china I had daily walked by a cabinet in our own downstairs family room, ignoring it as a possible contender due to a prevailing idea that it would be too small. One day, looking at the cabinet,  my husband said, "how about this?" and I found myself uttering a "we could try it" sort of response. The cabinet had once been home to our dishes but since moving to this house with ample room in the many kitchen cupboards, and for the fact that the glass had broken in the cabinet door, the thing had been demoted to a catch-all for my stuff - cards and letters I couldn't bear to throw away, birthday candles, old experiential learning books my husband no longer needed for his present career, old files of my writing, etc. I cleaned out the cabinet, we brought it upstairs, and it now holds Nana's china and Granny's crystal glasses very nicely indeed - and looks like it has been in our dining room forever. We'll get the door glass cut sometime soon. (We also need a piece cut for the garage door window which, for a long time now, has had a hockey ball shaped hole in it. It's on the to-do list.)

This cabinet has been with us as long as I've
been making Christmas cards

In the cleaning out of the cabinet I came across a file of old annual Christmas letters I had written, and another filled with the original drawings for the many years of cards I had made. I was, frankly, surprised to see that my drawings were not that bad. Not great by any means, but not bad either. I can't remember the last time I sat down to draw something besides a map for directions or a doodled flower while I'm talking on the phone.Today, I sat for a few minutes looking through the file, reading the old letters from when our children were little, and looking through my interpretations of our evolving life as a family over the years. I must say I enjoyed strolling down memory lane, and I was suddenly very glad I had decided to make cards again this year.

The original drawing for the front of my 1999 Christmas card 'Anyday, 1999'

The original drawing for the  inside of my 1999 Christmas card:
 'Holiday (Ahhh!) 1999/2000'

Family scene from inside Cabin 21 at the Lodge. December, 1999

The last family comic I drew for Christmas 2000
The next Christmas we had a little fourth in the picture.

After my 2000 card I stopped drawing a family comic. The year after our fourth child was born, and I became busier than I had ever thought possible, my kids drew little pictures for our annual Christmas card and I put them together in a collage format, made them into cards and sent them out. The kids enjoyed decorating and colouring the cards, but somehow the experience was not quite the same for me. I had enjoyed framing our family in a single comic format over the years.

One day, perhaps, I will pick up a pencil and draw another family comic. If not, I will still have this collection of cards which serves as something of a point-of-view family archive of those early, formative years that played a large part in making us what we are today.

If you click on the photos, it will enlarge them.


  1. The 2nd is by a good country mile the best. It is clean sharp and concise with profound movement. It also tells a story that isn't necessarily all happy-clappy.

    1. Really? Wow. I almost didn't include that one. Now I'm glad I did..I suppose it has redeemed me somewhat :)

  2. These cards are GREAT, you've got some skillz! I love all the included details - the houseplants, the scenery outside the windows... And the baby sleeping in the wild canoe ride! I can understand why the recipients would look forward to them.

    1. Thanks, Abby. It was nice to rediscover the fact that I had once made a bit of a habit of drawing - I enjoyed it!

  3. what a beautiful thing to re-discover!

  4. oh i hope you do...these are awesome...and what a fun touch to the christmas card...neat as well to see which scenes you chose each all the detail in them as well...

  5. I love your cards! You should definetly renew the tradition. They are little works of family art.
    P.S. Thanks for the link to Nora the piano playing cat. I had not seen her : )


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