Variations on a Blue Christmas

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 Nativity (1470-5)

The Nativity (1470-5)

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.

White and Silver and Green

White and Silver and Green

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

Rain in  the early morning light

Rain in the early morning light

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.

A Child's Nativity

A Child’s Nativity

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. 

Meri Kirihimeti

© silkannthreades

Advertisements

56 thoughts on “Variations on a Blue Christmas

  1. womanseyeview

    Love your little outdoor Christmas tree complete with your trademark flowers. Such a feast for the eyes to those of us in the frozen north right now even if it comes from a Christmas past. Have a happy blue Christmas!

    Reply
  2. gpcox

    Of course the nativity your daughter made is the best – it is a definite symbol of what Christmas is all about. But that NZ Christmas carol is beautiful!! Fantastic to not only have a song of your own, but one that makes you feel you are on the island itself – Congrats on an outstanding post!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It really is lovely to have Christmas carols that reference your own country’s experience of Christmas. I expect each country has them and google would reveal all if I went searching long enough. By the way, have you written of Christmas experiences in relation to the Korean War? I can’t remember any references to it, but I wonder how the day was marked.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank You YC. I love my little garden view. Blue is not traditional but it’s always fun to try something a little different. Purple and Gold might be good to try one year 🙂 Who knows what I will get up to next!

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      This is what I so love about blogging and the internet; I throw out some thing that has captured my imagination and then someone like yourself offers me more insight into the subject. Your uncle’s book sounds fascinating. Thanks for giving me the link. Is he someone you see often?

      Reply
      1. KerryCan

        He is not someone we see often, sadly–he’s a cool guy and his wife is wonderful. But my father (his cousin) died 40 years ago, and these Bankers live in the south and the rest of us in the North, and the family has always been the unemotional, reserved type–in other words, we don’t keep in touch much at all. It’s sad because Jim and I are the two academics in the whole family–we’d probably have quite a lot to say. I found this video of a talk he gave:

        http://fora.tv/2013/03/20/Three_Geniuses_and_a_Franciscan_Friar

        He’s not the young guy at the beginning–that guy is just introducing him.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Thanks ever so much for this link. I have just started to watch it and it’s awesome. I am sure you two would have a lot to talk about. Maybe he is just waiting for a little communication from you? Who knows? I am very excited because on Christmas Day I will be seeing a nephew for the first time in 13 years…we communicate via the internet sometimes but to actually see him and hug him is going to be wonderful.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes and I wear a lot of blue too.I don’t know if it makes me feel calm but it certainly makes me happy. I have a beautiful blue merino/possum scarf and a blue down jacket for winter and lots of different blue T shirts for summer.

      Reply
  3. Forest So Green

    I like your blue decorations and thanks so much for introducing me to the National Gallery online and Willow Macky 🙂

    Reply
  4. Just Add Attitude

    Blue is such a calming colour, or at least I find it is. I love the nativity set painted by your daughter when she was nine or ten, I love it for its simplicity and it must be such a special family piece as it links back to her childhood. 😉

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      All my decor is very simple 😉 but it pleases me, mostly because each card and decorative piece has a special history. My daughter made, drew and painted the most beautiful things when she was younger but then……her interest waned. She also wrote and drew a brilliant cartoon strip; must dig that out and see if I still find it funny. Probably find it funnier than ever; it was world politics as seen by an 11 year old.

      Reply
  5. Travelling Kiwi

    Thank you for the link to this performance of ‘Te Harinui’. I agree with you, it is a beloved New Zealand Christmas carol and it has a special place in my heart. I met Willow Macky once when she came into our library, and I will always remember it – it was like meeting royalty. Not because she put on airs – she didn’t at all, a very unassuming lady – but because I so honoured her for creating this iconic song for our New Zealand Christmas celebrations.
    Meri Kirihimeti to you and yours.
    Elizabeth.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh, that is exciting to know that you met Willow Macky. I do want to listen to more of her work. It was very difficult to find a good recording of Te Harinui. I thought there would be many to choose from but, alas, no. Not that I could see, anyway. Meri Kirihimeti to you too. Not sure that Christmas cards will be done this year 😦

      Reply
  6. Katrina Lester

    I too love the soothing blues of your decorations. All very thoughtful and beautifully chosen. Enjoy your Christmas table.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am sure you noticed a few familiar pieces. Did you recognise the little tea candle? I have been saving it for a special occasion 🙂 S& A and their two offspring will be here on Christmas Day. Our first Christmas with those two boys (together ) since about 1990.

      Reply
  7. utesmile

    It is funny in London the colour seems blue this year too, and it looks very lovely with all the lights. Your table looks great and I do love your own nativity scene, is it not more precious to use one’s children’s work.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      How lovely to think of London being blue and all a-twinkle with lights. And, yes, our children’s handiwork is precious. I still have many examples of it and enjoy displaying it.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Maureen. The National Gallery is wonderful. I do look at other galleries which have wonderful online resources but my favourite remains the National Gallery.

      Reply
  8. tiny lessons blog

    It’s so beautiful with the blues and light tones for Christmas! Quite unusual as one often thinks about Christmas in terms of red and green, but I find these colors very soothing and calming…silencing the mind. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      If I manage to decorate for Christmas (and I don’t always manage) I often choose the traditional green and red colours but, as it is summer here ,we have a lot of colour about, especially in our red flowering trees, so it’s nice to tone down sometimes 🙂 In the Northern Hemisphere the reds and greens add warmth/brightness, don’t they?

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s