The kiln is firing for the Holiday's!

Feeling Nostalgic

Today I woke up bright and early to start a kiln loaded with Holiday goodies! I started thinking about my family's holiday traditions through the years and how they have grown and changed.

My mind wandered as I finished-up a special item for myself this season, trimmed some pots, and cleaned the studio to ready it for my niece and I to spend several days this week glazing and decorating everything from this firing for a second firing later this week. I felt overwhelmingly blessed that I get to create things that might be a special gift this year as well as for the time I get to spend with my niece in the studio this week. Then I started thinking about how our family Christmas traditions have changed through the years.

When I was about 6 I learned about who Santa was. As it turns out Santa was and likely still is my dad. You see, I was asked by a boy at a church Christmas party to go get more candy canes from my 'dad' to which I responded "my daddy's working!", but then was told - "no he is not - he's over there in the Santa suit!" At that point I ran away crying and my mother consoled me in her angelic choir robe. To come to terms with this new way of thinking, I started to investigate the facts around me.

My dad spent a lot of time each evening from October to December in his wood-working shop. Through the years, we just expected him to be there. Often we were not allowed inside. Sometimes black drapes would cover the windows. Then Christmas morning, things would emerge - fun games to find where gifts were hidden, hand-carved items, assembled toys...you name it. If it wasn't under the tree on Christmas morning, it likely had found it's way *somehow* into dad's wood shop. I was convinced this was because my dad was actually the 'real' Santa Claus! I still think he is!

In later years we would sometimes be invited into the wood shop to make special things for special people. The tools all placed in their "proper locations" designated by my dad that a left-brained person would tell their right-brain they were a bit nuts organizationally. Back then, I would question why we would have to put something back specifically 'there'? But now I understand. My right-brained side now equally creates an organized chaos that my left-brain questions whether there is any organizational scheme at all. My niece seems to take this in stride.

Today as I tidied the pottery studio, I put things into their special chaotic places, and readied for the next steps in the ceramics process, I couldn't help to draw a parallel between my actions this November and my dad's throughout the years as he likely readied the wood shop for our arrival just as I readied for the arrival of my niece. Many of the items in today's kiln load will be purchased or are spoken-for as gifts for a special someone but my niece doesn't really question my organizational scheme as I once did...she takes this in stride.

Has my dad passed the torch? I don't think so...not yet anyway. I was overcome by a feeling of pure joy that I get to do what I get to do each day. I thought a lot about how grateful I am that my husband supports this pursuit. I thought how cool it is that this tradition of making things special for special people is being passed to the next generation of my family through my niece. I thought a lot about how God might organize things just perfectly for our arrival too and wondered whether my spot might be left-brain or right-brain organized. Good-luck God!

Start of a clay replica of my Great Grandfather's annual Christmas sign.A special gift to myself from my studio this year!

I also thought a lot about my great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents, and how our family traditions have all emerged as a conglomeration of traditions passed down through the years. My great-grandfather in-particular was a thrifty and resourceful individual. A patriarch of the family who instilled a desire to celebrate our heritage yearly at Christmas gatherings and family reunions. This year, I am in the process of making a clay-interpretation of a sign that was placed each December on my great grandparents home. 

His was a resourceful use of scrap wood, tin punched messaging, and likely some saved floral colored cellophane with a spare backlit bulb to set the stage for the season. I can't wait to see how my interpreted version from scrap clay becomes a new part of my family's decorating traditions this year! I can't wait to bake cookies with my nephew a tradition from my mom that he is a master of. I can't wait to celebrate with family and friends all of the wonderful blessings we have experienced this year. I can't wait to see how surprised special people are when they receive special things from my backyard "Santa's Workshop" this year! I can't wait to hang that gigantic peanut we hang in honor of my husband's family traditions! (That's a whole other blog post folks!)

What are you looking forward to this Holiday season? How do you celebrate? What are some of your favorite traditions? I'd love to hear all about them! -- Amy

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