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Another day in the country

© Another Day in the Country

This year we decided to try making our own cards. We made a raid on Hobby Lobby and came away with colored papers, Christmas stickers, glitter, glue strips, stars, ribbon, and blank cards with envelopes — we were going to make cards from scratch.

Last night we started. We took over the kitchen table and then, frankly, the whole kitchen with creations either coming or going. Jess had this idea of layering bright colored paper designs on a white card and having a part of that design standing free. I decided to just paint mine with watercolor with the added touch of making something extra that could stand away from the card.

Every year I have the children in Centre Art class make cards; but I haven’t done it myself. I just get my Christmas creativity satiated by helping them. But this year, with Jessica’s idea spinning in my head, I was anxious to try making my own.

The hardest thing is to screw up your courage to begin — there’s this silly fear of getting something wrong. Jess had the idea to add embellishment to her trees with a gold pen. “But would this really look good? Maybe it’s tacky?” She really didn’t know whether the stripes should run at an angle or straight up and down. She had to experiment.

When you set out to be creative, you’ve just got to allow yourself to not know everything — especially the outcome. Planning is an adult thing to do, but when you plan, then over plan, rigidity sets in. You miss a lot of things in the realm of all possibilities because you aren’t looking for them.

When the children in art class make Christmas cards with me, I lead them through the process step-by-step. Most years they only get one shot at it — we don’t have time to make more. Making forty cards was going to give me a lot of practice. I didn’t know if I would make it because I have trouble doing the same thing over and over. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this. I’m an art teacher so you’d think this would be an easy process; but it wasn’t. I had the same fear as any beginner, “Will it look good?”

After a couple of hours of intense card making, I stopped to look at my cards that were drying on the kitchen deck. How cute! At first my watercolor strokes were labored; but little by little I let myself flow. I definitely liked the later creations best because practice makes perfect! Little by little, a pattern developed and finally, last night, the very last card — which was the simplest card of all, turned out to be my favorite. “I’ve got it,” I said to Jess as she sat across the table gluing and glittering to her heart’s content.

It takes quite a few cards to fill my address list and I was getting tired of how long it took to make each card unique. I had to find something more simplistic that still pleased my child’s heart and here I had it. I sat down and made several in a flash. They were beautiful, simple, loving, profound.

“Isn’t it strange,” Jess said as she kept getting better and better at her card collages, “I’m finally getting the hang of this. It’s kind of like life. Finally, after 60, I’m getting it.”

My sister and I didn’t grow up in a household filled with glitter. We were preacher’s kids. We can preach a good sermon, sing special music, and make an altar call but we’re having to learn the art of experimental play later in life,

My third and fourth graders made some pretty cute cards. Doing anything new is like being dumped into the deep end of the pool and we thrash around for awhile — eventually you get the hang of floating. It’s what I try to teach my kids in art class — let your brush float across the page. Everything happens fast these days. Our children are bombarded with stimuli, lights flashing, buttons pulsing, something new on a screen every six seconds and they don’t have the opportunity to be still and hear that small voice within — the artist’s muse.

Jess is humming Christmas carols, laughing as she reaches into her giant economy size jar of glittering rhinestone gems to glue on tree shapes, embellishing to her heart’s content.

Our Ramona Post Office is still here, processing letters, packages, and goodwill. They’ve got new Christmas stamps and we’ve just created a bunch of one-of-a-kind cards to mail along with our annual Christmas missive. On the surface, it’s just another day in the country; but you can be sure this year, each card, will go out with an extra measure of cheer!

Last modified Dec. 14, 2011

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