The Post of Christmas Past
Since I missed the whollllllle holiday season, I didn't get to post the painting my family chose to use for their annual Christmas card! I thought it might be the Rockefeller Christmas tree from the previous year (that she was displeased I had done too late to use for the prior Christmas) or potentially the one of the Bryant Park tree below, but instead we ended up going with this sketch of a festive Radio City Music Hall, on a square card.
The Woodward Family Christmas card has been accompanied by a letter updating family and friends to the goings on in our lives since I was a kid; this year was our 25th letter! I joke with my Mom (who pens it every year) whenever I do anything interesting that I'm giving her material for the next letter. My sister, Hilary, and I were surprised by our parents this Christmas with books including almost all the annual family letters, dating back to 1994! A perk of having each year condensed into a paragraph about each person is that now we have a great chronicle of the past twenty-five years. I read through every letter and was surprised how much I had forgotten, but also struck with how much has stayed the same.
Highlights of past letters include Hilary (my sister) and I getting "older and sassier" (circa 1997). I'm happy to report we have only increased in sassiness in the last twenty-two years. The letter of 2000 mentions the first time someone offered to buy a painting of mine, having seen it in my art class' exhibition, and my parents "breathing a sigh of relief" that they didn't have to enter into a bidding war as I decided to decline the sale. I particularly liked the quote following it, "For years she's been decorating the refrigerator, and now the ugly truth is that we may have to pay to hang on to the gallery. Hope she gives us first choice and family rates."** Whenever I have been asked how my parents feel about me going into theatre and art, I usually say that they are very supportive, and proud. I think I could probably also add "not surprised" to the list. For the record, at the time of this letter, I was twelve.
Some parts of the letters made me laugh, since Mom's writing is consistently funnier and more charming than she will ever take credit for. One example from 2006 as I was applying to colleges "[Mom] began to realize that she should show more respect for the creative projects that leave the basement in perpetual clutter."
Other things, however, like the summer I worked at so many different theatres I didn't spend more than 13 days in one place, or in junior year when I had the side mirror get vandalized twice in one month, are perhaps better left forgotten.
Mostly, when reading about all the driving I did, back and forth to college, summerstock theatre, and my year living in Alabama (and driving solo to and from), I wish I had been sketching sooner. Not sure how long the family letter will survive, but I'm happy to keep giving Mom material as long as she's writing it.
**I'm happy to report that yes, they get first dibs on works they are interested in, but mostly choose to either get prints (choose your own size!) or printed tote bags (they're so useful! Mom is addicted.) from my Society6 store