Ghosts of Christmas Crafts

Winter in north-central Montana can be brutal.

Our farm’s shelter-belt trees blocked the west wind, but from the north, it swept down unimpeded and swirled around our farmhouse, piling long berms of snow that curled along the tops like rollers on the sea.

Inside, though, all was snug and warm. Mom found ways to occupy us, and during the Christmas season, when we were even more rambunctious than usual, holiday craft kits kept us out from underfoot.

This painting celebrates some of our more memorable projects: my green feather Christmas tree (right); my sister’s glass-head pin tree (center), and the cork and pipe-cleaner reindeer (complete with googly eyes) that we found in a holiday crafts magazine.

There was something meditative about sitting at the kitchen table, poking glass-head pins through silver sequin disks and then pushing them into the styrofoam cone. This made an oddly satisfying scraping-squeaking sound. While my sister did that, I painted glue on the backs of my green feathers and laid them in ascending rings on my own cone. The room was warm and bright. Snowflakes brushed the windowpanes and the light got bluer and bluer as the early winter sunset approached.

Warm and wonderful holiday wishes to all of you.