Sometime in the late summer or autumn of 2015 my friend Carolyn Black who runs Flow projects, began a fascinating project called Story of Objects, collecting stories and images or videos from people about objects they owned that had personal significance. I began a number of stories to send her but I didn’t manage to complete them for various reasons and at the moment Carolyn’s focus has moved onto making her own artwork.
However, amongst the stories her project inspired me to write were a handful about some of the things I get out of the loft every year at Christmas, many of which trigger fond memories, so last year, 2016, in early December I began to compile ‘Twelfth Night Tales’ based on favourite, nostalgic or curious Christmas possessions, intending to post them over the twelve days of Christmas. It was also partly in honour of my mother who had died the previous year and had always made Christmas very special, several of the stories relate in some way to her.
I got off to a good start writing notes and photographing a few of of the items but circumstances intervened; my poor, frail and ailing mother-in-law, aged 90 and still stubbornly, and inappropriately, living on her own (my father-in-law had died in 2011) went rapidly downhill in December and we spent the saddest Christmas we’ve ever experienced at her home in Hertfordshire, arbitrating between her and the carers she really needed but didn’t want, telling them so them so loudly and abusively. It was hard to reconcile this with the memorable Christmases at this same house when our boys were young; they were brilliant, vivacious grandparents and so good to us. The ten days we spent there last year were a difficult time for us all and once we returned home on New Year’s Eve I had no appetite for continuing with what had been seasonal delights.
My mother-in-law died in February making this year, 2017, the first time that we won’t be sharing Christmas with parents. So I’ve decided to complete the story task I’d set myself and to make it a celebration of our family Christmases through the stories of objects that are hand-made, nostalgic, mundane, bought in Lidl, sad, charming or just odd.
There has never been any religion attached to our December festivities in either of our families (although we all like carol singing!), just the enjoyment of spending generally stress-free time together, being thankful for a warm home and having enough to eat, and revelling in both the inward-facing darkness of midwinter and marking it with light and sparkly things. The photographs above a sample of some of the stories to come.
Many people will have similar or comparable items so you can share the nostalgic indulgence of these sporadic posts between now and January 6th. So dear readers – a Happy Christmas, Midwinter Greetings, and a very Good New Year!