The National Gallery in London features a painting each month which you can download as a wallpaper. Over the last 12 months I have enjoyed some lovely paintings, courtesy of this wonderful service. The masterpiece for the month of December is ‘The Nativity” by Piero della Francesca.
The Gallery notes explain the painting, and its context, and it’s fascinating to read about the magpie, and the angels without wings, and why the donkey is not paying attention to Jesus and the ox is. But there are four aspects of this work that I adore; the blue robes, the hairstyles of the angels, the informality of Joseph’s relaxed foot and the little birds amongst the plants near the angels’ feet?
The coolness and calm created by the gentle colours in this Nativity reminded me of the year I decided to decorate a little potted Christmas tree, in my garden, in white and silver and blue.
That Blue Christmas was in 2005, I think, and, although I don’t have a Christmas tree this year, indoors or out, I felt a great need for another round of Christmas Blues. So I set to, quietly and slowly, piece by piece, filling my world with blue.
Perhaps my mood was influenced by a 15th Century Italian interpretation of the Nativity or, perhaps, like Juliet Batten, author of Spirited Ageing, I am responding to a natural need to be soothed and swaddled and lullaby-ed through what can be a hot, rushed and hectic Antipodean festive season.
Last night an early summer storm raged through the inland section of our province. Hail stones destroyed farmers’ crops but, here, in the city we were spared the worst of it. As a result I woke this morning to the blessing of gentle rain on my parched garden
and the tranquility and peace of the soft tones of morning light on the blues of my Christmas preparations.
In one corner of my living room, I have placed my own Nativity Scene. Not made by a famous artist but painted by the small, meticulous hand of my daughter when she was about nine or ten. The figures are slightly worn, the lamb has sustained a chip, but the Nativity set is loved, and a favourite decoration, no matter how I choose to colour my Christmas.
No Christmas time is complete without music. I love the traditional old world songs but, this year, I am enjoying a loved New Zealand carol, Te Harinui (Great Joy ), written by our own Willow Macky to mark the first Christmas service in New Zealand in the Bay of Islands in 1814.