Healthy Green Gift-Giving
The Rise of Blue
News for December 2007
It's That Season Again
It's That Season AgainWombat Droppings
by Ursula Vernon
Christ on a pogo stick, is it December already?
I'm not ready for December. Hell, I'm barely done with June. This year went by with horrifying speed.
I knew it had to be getting near the end of the year, however, because the Christmas cards start showing up. People send them, people post on-line how to contact them if you want one, they appear in the stores, laid out attractively on tables as I wait in line, clutching my copy of the latest popular science book in my hot little hand.
For years, I made grandiose plans to do my own Christmas card. I’m an artist, damnit! I have mad visual skills or some vague facsimile thereof! I have done greeting cards professionally, even! Surely I will not shell out fifteen bucks for an impersonal holiday greeting when I could make an elegant visual offering of my own, treasured by the recipient for years to come (or at least a couple of minutes.)
Once or twice I even managed to do it. Not in the last four or five years, though. Time gets away from me.
I clung to the notion of making my own gifts a little longer. I still have friends who remember getting art for Christmas. (Sorry, gang, probably not gonna happen any more. I hope you’ll be content with chocolate instead.)
I'd like to say that there came a point where I had priced myself out of the market, where my time became sufficiently valuable that I could no longer afford my own art for gifts, and that's maybe a small part of it. And maybe it's time, too—surely there are not enough hours in the day any longer, and we will ignore all those evenings spent smashing the enemy into a pulp on my Playstation, which could have been more productively spent making gifts for the people who love me. (Yes, I am a bad person. I am coming to terms with this.)
Actually, though, I think it's that I hate Christmas shopping. Don't get me wrong, I like Christmas. It's like Disneyland -- pure tacky, you wouldn't want to live there, but a fun reminder of childhood and wonder and goodwill and commercialism and hey, at least some of the food’s pretty good. But shopping…not so much.
It never fails. I get a checklist, I go to the mall, and despite the fact that I know these people wonderfully well, I have grown up with some of them, I know the dark and intimate secrets of others, I suddenly realize that I haven't got the faintest idea what any of these people would like. Hell, after a few hours of wandering around listening to piped in Christmas carols, I can’t remember what half of them look like, how we met, or why I care. (This is no reflection on my friends. By that point I generally can't remember my own name, date of birth, or where I parked, either.) They wind up getting summer sausage or calendars with interesting chickens. If they're lucky.
Trying to make art for my friends and family was like injecting all the joy of Christmas shopping into a pile of artist’s block. I sat and stared at the blank page and gibbered. The fact that they would then say "I'd love any art you did!" did not help. If anything, it made matters worse. The field was too wide open! There were too many options! I could paint literally anything!
Eventually I would have to be coaxed out from under the desk, and I would go buy people mugs with snide comments written on the side. And then I would forget to mail them until mid-January. And wouldn't wrap them. And would forget to include a note, acting on the assumption that whoever wanted a particular gift would claim it, and that way everybody would be reasonably happy. And the art that I would have started -- assuming I had gotten that far -- would get shoved into a corner of the studio, to be completed next Christmas.
This year I totally mean it.
Well, they say self knowledge is greatest. We all know I'll never actually finish it, even if I could find it, which I probably can’t. So I've given up. No more making art for Christmas. I'm in a profession, and I'll just act like everybody else -- plumbers don’t send a toilet seat to everyone on their list, I suspect, secretaries do not drop off a pile of elegantly wrapped faxes, doctors do not invite their buddies down for a free appendectomy. I shall take a lesson from this. I can buy Christmas cards without guilt.
Now, if I could just remember to send them out before March...
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