Growing up in a family who didn’t celebrate Christmas, means I’ve always shuddered when people mention the “C” word! I’m known for being a Scrooge / Grinch hybrid, and the older I get, the grumpier I seem to be when it comes to Christmas. But, I’m not a total lost cause. There are times I remember throughout my childhood, where I encountered Christmas, even if I didn’t ‘officially’ celebrate it, and I loved it. There are memories that fill me with the warmth and joy of the tinsel-clad season of goodwill, and it’s those times that have inspired the new prints, It’s Christmas Time and The Christmas Tree.
When I look back and remember those days, it does make me yearn for another time, a time when two wee boys from the same family (my cousin David and I), would wander around the village and see the hustle and bustle of men dragging their Christmas tree home to be decorated. Huge full trees, small scrawny trees and everything in between – I didn’t know it then, but there are a heck of a lot of Christmas trees grown in Scotland.
Davie and I would watch the fir trees and spruces being carried (or dragged) through the streets, dads and granddads trying to keep their balance on the icy streets and avoid losing all the needles from the tree before they even get it home. Every other day or so after school, we would walk the village, and look in every house window to see who had the best Christmas tree.
We would imagine what it must have looked like from inside those houses, with all the fairy lights changing colours and reflecting on the tinsel that hung in strands from every branch. We would gaze in awe (and a wee bit of jealousy) at the presents galore nestling under the Christmas tree, and imagine the warmth coming from the glowing fire, bathing the room in flickering lights that you can only get from a real coal fire.
There were always some great trees in Springside, but there was always one family, that year after year took the crown for having the Best Christmas Tree; and that was a house on Craig View, the same street I was born on. But this house with the Best Christmas Tree wasn’t a “cooncil hoose” like the houses I was used to; it was a step-up; a bit of a “hoity-toity hoose”; a bit posh. The tree that Mr and Mrs Thurston put up was nothing short of spectacular and Davie, and I would stand outside looking on in wonderment.
When I sat down to create the new prints for Christmas, I wanted to put all of my warm recollections of Christmas into the images; in the hope that people might look at them and be reminded of their own Christmas memories, maybe of times gone by or for those who are looking forward to Christmas…when I finally saw these pieces become limited edition prints, after they had been hand-embellished and I was signing each one, the fuzzy warm feelings of Christmas did overtake me for a moment. And if I, a self-confessed Christmas Grinch feels joyful and festive, I’m sure they can do the same for you.