First, an alert: this post bor­ders on the sen­ti­men­tal. That is anath­e­ma to many an artist, and most times, for good rea­son. But I’ve nev­er been an absolutest (the world doesn’t work that way), and in this case, sen­ti­men­tal­i­ty is not only okay, it’s a good thing.

Hear my point, if you will. The def­i­n­i­tion of sen­ti­men­tal is: “of or prompt­ed by feel­ings of ten­der­ness, sad­ness, or nos­tal­gia.” And what is the hol­i­day and post-hol­i­day sea­son if not a bit nos­tal­gic and ten­der and sen­ti­men­tal? Those are key ingre­di­ents for cre­at­ing mean­ing in our lives. It’s why I watch It’s a Won­der­ful Life every year. In our tough old world, we need to be remind­ed of the sweet­ness inher­ent in the human con­di­tion. Christ­mas and the New Year are our sea­son­al reminders.

I know we’re past the sea­son, but I have to con­fess some­thing. I got a lit­tle behind with emails and oth­er art busi­ness, because, well, over the past few months, I fell in love, and for the first time in a while, I got to enjoy Christ­mas ful­ly. It was an adven­ture for sure, and even includ­ed a trip to Lon­don to spend Christ­mas Eve and Christ­mas Day. I lit­er­al­ly got swept off my feet.

Here’s anoth­er con­fes­sion: I’m a Christ­mas music nut. I mean, I LOVE good Christ­mas music. (Again, I know we’re past the sea­son, and you might be sick of all things hol­i­day relat­ed, but please bear with me, because this is about more than Christ­mas.) This year, I got real­ly excit­ed, because one of my favorite musi­cal artists, JD McPher­son, came out with a Christ­mas album. I played  it non­stop, and I danced and sang to it while mak­ing din­ner many a night. (Sssh. Don’t tell.) It’s good. It’s real­ly, real­ly good, and all the songs are orig­i­nals that I’m sure are soon to be clas­sics. (Some of the songs are refresh­ing­ly sen­ti­men­tal, and some put a smirky twist on the hol­i­day tra­di­tion.)

One of the songs is called “All the Gifts I Need.” The refrain is, “It’s not even Christ­mas yet; I got all the gifts I need.”

That has giv­en me pause and made me think. In a big way. About all the gifts in my own life. And how impor­tant it is to share what I’m so very for­tu­nate to have.

"Winter Light," 36 x 36 x 1.5 inches, oil and cold wax on cradled panel board by Dawn Boyer

Win­ter Light,” 36 x 36 x 1.5 inch­es, oil and cold wax on cra­dled pan­el board by Dawn Boy­er

I didn’t get to send out Christ­mas cards the way I usu­al­ly do–only a few made it (because the swept-off-my-feet thing). So, I decid­ed to send out New Year cards instead. My first paint­ing of 2019, enti­tled Win­ter Light was the choice for the cards, which I sent to col­lec­tors and any­one who respond­ed to my posts on Face­book and to an email say­ing they want­ed one. It was my way of giv­ing. A way to spread some peace, and some joy. Because peace and joy are very, very good for us.

This paint­ing was cre­at­ed from the mem­o­ry of many, many hours spent out­side on ponds or lakes ice skat­ing, whether with oth­er kids in the neigh­bor­hood or by myself. That bliss­ful mix­ture of feel­ing chilled from the win­ter temps but also warm from the exer­cise, where all my sens­es height­ened and things crys­tal­lized and I felt so alive and con­tent. (And filled with both peace and joy, the two held exquis­ite­ly, inter­twined.) That par­tic­u­lar light a win­ter cloud bank brings, and a blan­ket of hush in the air. Where hope and pos­si­bil­i­ty whis­per, even (espe­cial­ly?) in the cold, if only you open your­self up to lis­ten and see and feel.

I received (and gave) my first real kiss after skat­ing on a day like this. And the boy who kissed me told me he loved me, too. I have no idea where that boy is now, but it’s a mem­o­ry I’ll always cher­ish. I thank this paint­ing for bring­ing that mem­o­ry to the fore­front, and I hope it will give you some fond mem­o­ries of your own to savor.

Here’s to a new year of mak­ing won­der­ful mem­o­ries.

And to art and the sweet­ness it can bring (this isn’t to be con­fused with sac­cha­rine), even if it does bor­der on the sen­ti­men­tal. Because you know what? It takes a lot more courage to allow one­self to be vul­ner­a­ble and hon­est and show ten­der­ness and sen­ti­men­tal­i­ty and yes, love, than it is to hide and pro­tect one­self behind a wall of cyn­i­cism or fear, or, in the words of Oscar Wilde, “intel­lec­tu­al dandy­ism.” 

And oh, it brings so much more reward. That’s what I’ve learned, any­way. Hap­py 2019.